February denotes a month of romance, chocolate, and, of course, all things heart shaped. However, let's not forget the most important heart shape, the muscular organ inside us all.
In a recent article on Healthline, 3.7 million people go to the hospital for heart disease every year, and 12.4 million people visit their physician for heart disease. All while researchers at the American Heart Association spend $135 million on cardiovascular disease and stroke research per year. So why are there so many people worried about their heart? Because heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide. Experts estimate around 715 thousand Americans experience a heart attack every year. So, knowing the facts, are you ready to take a step back and add some of the best practices to keeping your heart happy living a longer, healthier life?
Don't worry be happy
Life throws us curveballs that send us on an emotional rollercoaster. Sometimes that coaster gives us a natural high while other times it tends to leave us frustrated and stressed. Try to see the positive in those curveballs. Our blood pressure has a direct correlation to overall heart health.
Rosalba Hernandez, a professor of social work at the University of Illinois, found that people with the highest levels of optimism have two times the odds of being in ideal cardiovascular health opposed to those with less of an optimistic outlook. There are many ways to alleviate stress while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Next time life hands you lemons, take those lemons to the gym, a yoga class, or enjoy a nice glass of lemonade by the beach.
Put down the cigarette
Do you, or someone you love, smoke or use tobacco? Stop the habit now. Tobacco use and smoking are among the most significant risk factors for developing heart disease. The chemicals and carbon monoxide can replace oxygen in your blood resulting in higher blood pressure and heart rate. Keep in mind, merely reducing the amount you smoke is ineffective. Experts agree any amount of smoking is harmful. By putting that cigarette down, you'll put down the risk of heart disease.
A piece of chocolate a day
…. A little moderation can sometimes be beneficial. Take some of the health benefits of chocolate, for example. Chocolate is infused with flavonoids, which have antioxidant power. This combats foreign radicals that invade the body and hurt our respiratory system.
All is well for those who sleep well
A healthy lifestyle is more beneficial than we give it credit. We're encouraged to get the perfect amount of sleep, but what is the perfect amount? According to Reuters, a large U.S. study sampled people who usually get less than six hours of sleep. Those people were linked to having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and high rates of obesity. All highly signifying risk for cardiovascular disease. While people who slept longer didn't seem to have any negative health effects, those who get too little sleep were more often less healthy. While sleep is usually dependent on the individual, studies have found that sleeping an average of seven to eight hours kept you healthy, wealthy and wise.
During the month of February, pay close attention to that one special heart — yours. Don't fall victim to the leading cause of death, exercise your heart for a healthier, happier life.