The American Heart Association recently developed Life’s Essential 8 – a set of recommendations intended to help people improve their cardiovascular health and live a longer, more productive life. Read on to learn more about how these recommendations can help you feel your best for years to come.
Almost all of us can make changes to improve our nutrition. Focus on eating vegetables and fruit, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. You can also check out the Mediterranean Diet, which is proven to help maintain heart health. For more healthy eating tips, read How Do I Follow a Healthy Diet Pattern?
Be more active
The American Heart Association recommends adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That breaks down into five 30-minute workouts. If you’re short on time, try splitting it further to three 10-minute workouts a day. To learn more, read Exercises for a Healthier Heart.
If you currently smoke or use tobacco products, there’s no day like today to quit. Talk to your primary care provider to learn more about smoking cessation classes and support groups.
Get healthy sleep
Scrimping on sleep can lead to weakened immunity and contribute to chronic health conditions, such as heart disease. Most adults need eight to nine hours of sleep per day to stay healthy. To learn more, read Eight Tips for Better Sleep.
Maintaining a healthy weight can help you manage or avoid chronic health conditions. Aim for a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25. If you’re in the overweight or obese BMI range, talk to your primary care provider about starting a weight loss plan.
High cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits in your blood vessels, which makes it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries. Aim for total cholesterol below 200 mg/dL. Your doctor may choose to focus on monitoring LDL cholesterol – also known as “bad” cholesterol. Optimal LDL cholesterol is less than 100 mg/dL.
Manage blood sugar
Our bodies use glucose (blood sugar) as energy. However, elevated blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves over time. Aim for a fasting blood sugar level of 99 mg/dL and an A1c below 5.7 percent. If you have high blood sugar, focus on eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding or quitting smoking.
Manage blood pressure
Managing your blood pressure can help you avoid heart disease and other chronic health issues. Aim for levels less than 120/80 mmHg. Hypertension is defined as 130-139/80-89 mmHg. To learn more, read Hypertension 101. [LINK to HYPERTENSION ARTICLE]