New heart health guidelines you need to know
Maintaining a healthy heart is a challenge for many people. It requires a commitment to an exercise regimen, a healthy diet, and checking with your doctor about your cardiovascular disease risk factors (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and more).
Cardiovascular diseases – which includes heart disease, heart attackstroke, heart failure, arrhythmia and heart valve problems — the No. 1 killer of Americans, according to Dr. Leslie Chohead of the department of preventive cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic. Every 34 secondssomeone in the US dies of cardiovascular disease.
All of this may sound quite intimidating, and it is. But “90% heart disease is preventable,” said Cho. And those preventable measures are listed in a recent update from the American Heart Association Life is important 8which the AHA describes as “key measures to improve and maintain cardiovascular health.”
Sleep is now included in the guidelines.
For the first time, sleep is included in the heart health guidelines because it is “vital to cardiovascular health,” according to the AHA. Adults should sleep seven to nine hours every night to have an optimal immune system, to restore cells, blood vessels and tissues, to improve brain function and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
“There’s a lot of data about Americans who don’t get enough sleep or have poor sleep, and we know a lot more about if you sleep poorly, that really increases the risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but also things like high blood pressure and heart failure,” Cho said. .
She added yes studies show lack of sleep can also increase cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity and diabetes. “It’s a vicious cycle,” she said.
And there’s an even greater risk for people with sleep apnea, a condition where you stop breathing while you sleep. The condition is “associated with things like high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and heart failure,” Cho said, noting that it’s important to talk to your doctors about your sleep quality to see if you might be suffering from sleep apnea or another sleep disorder. .
Secondhand smoke and vaping are now official risk factors (although they were already well-known risks).
Quitting smoking has always been an important way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, but now guidelines specifically include the dangers of second-hand smoke and second-hand smoke.
According to the AHA, “about a third of American children ages 3 to 11 are exposed to secondhand smoke or vaping,” both of which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
“In modern America, we’ve been led to believe that vaping is better than smoking, and that’s actually not true,” Cho said. Vaping can cause lung problems and cancer, and it also delivers nicotine, which is highly addictive, she said.
The guidelines also emphasize the importance of other healthy lifestyle habits.
In addition to smoking cessation and good sleep, the guidelines include things that have been proven to help maintain and/or improve heart health: exercise, proper nutrition, controlling cardiovascular risk factors, and more.
It may seem quite daunting to commit to all these goals, but you can do it little by little until you create a new routine. Try, for example, going for a 21-minute walk a few times a week. When you’re ready, you can increase your frequency to every day, which Harvard Health says it can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30%.
Other ways to start your heart health journey? Make an appointment to get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked, or swap salads for lunch a few days a week.
The American Heart Association encourages everyone to follow these guidelines in addition to the above:
- Eat well: Maintaining a diet consisting of lean proteins (such as chicken and turkey), fruits, vegetables, nuts and more. The guidelines also emphasize that a Mediterranean diet (a diet rich in vegetables, beans, fish and fruit) is good for reducing heart disease.
- Being active: The AHA says adults should get at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (such as running or swimming) or 2.5 hours of moderate exercise (such as gardening or brisk walking) each week.
- Watch your weight: It is important to monitor your weight because obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.
- Monitoring your cholesterol: Having high cholesterol, especially high low-density lipoprotein or LDL (also known as bad cholesterol), can cause stroke, heart disease, and more.
- Watching your blood sugar: High blood sugar can cause heart and kidney damage.
- Blood pressure management: High blood pressure can put you at greater risk of heart attack and heart disease, According to the CDC.
“HHonestly, this is not bad news, this is great news … you can do something, you are in control” of your heart health, Cho said.