Take care of your heart


Keeping your heart strong is one of the best things you can do for your health. There are many helpful ways to boost heart health and making good lifestyle choices is one of the best ways to improve heart health.

As a leading provider of heart care and services, Mercy Health reminds you that eating healthy, combined with exercise and healthy living can help to lower the risk for heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol.

However, there are some lesser-known ways that your habits, life stage and lifestyle might negatively impact your heart health. These include:

-Stress: During the current COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are experiencing stress more than ever before. The longer and more intense your stress is, the worse it may be for your heart. Stress can increase your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. Being stressed can even change the way your blood clots itself, which may increase your risk of having a heart attack.

-Lack of sleep: Not getting enough sleep tops the list of heart disease risk factors. Often, an inability to sleep is a symptom of another problem that can cause heart issues, such as sleep apnea or anxiety. Not getting enough sleep may also increase insulin resistance, which happens when your body doesn’t use insulin efficiently. Insulin resistance can also cause you to develop diabetes. Try your best to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Reach out to your primary care provider if you continue to struggle with getting enough sleep.

-Menopause: Heart disease is the number-one cause of death for women, and female hormones may play a role in developing it. Estrogen, the primary female sex hormone, can keep arteries more flexible and relaxed, which means it’s easier for a woman’s heart to pump blood. When a woman goes through menopause, however, her body produces less estrogen. This can cause her arteries to stiffen, which may lead to high blood pressure.

-Intense Grief: When something tugs at your heartstrings or breaks your heart, you’re not just experiencing strong sadness. Your heart could have a physical reaction to this intense emotion. Although they’re usually temporary, experiencing loss can cause symptoms that resemble those of a heart attack, including sharp chest pains and shortness of breath. And, these reactions cause just as much real stress to your cardiovascular system.

-Skipping Breakfast: For a healthy heart, try not to skip breakfast — it really is the most important meal of the day. According to the American Heart Association, people who eat breakfast every morning often experience lower rates of heart disease and have lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels than people who pass up this meal.

-Dental Hygiene: Surprisingly, the bacteria between your teeth that can cause your gums to become inflamed can also affect your heart. When you have gum disease, the germs in your mouth may get into your bloodstream and travel to your heart. This creates inflammation in damaged areas of your heart tissue and may even cause its muscles to become infected.

-Not Lifting Weights: Aerobic exercise is important for everything from improving your mood to boosting your heart health. However, strength training might play just as important a role in keeping your heart pumping properly. Incorporate short, regular sessions of weightlifting into your fitness routine to start seeing the benefits. If your local gym is closed due to the current COVID-19 pandemic or you simply decide you feel uncomfortable going right now, consider other exercise options.

For a healthy heart, people should also quit smoking, limit exposure to second-hand smoke, stay active, and aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

For more tips and information, follow Mercy Health’s Blog at blog.mercy.com/.

Unexpected things can impact heart health

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Submitted by Mercy Health.

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