The new guidelines now include the importance of getting enough sleep.
Maintaining a healthy heart is a challenge for many people. This requires following a workout program, eating healthy foods, and staying in touch with your doctor about your risk factors for cardiovascular disease (high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, etc.).
Heart disease – which includes heart disease, heart attacksstroke, heart failure, arrhythmia and heart valve problems ― is the No. 1 killer of Americans, according to Dr. Leslie Chosection chief of preventive cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic. Every 34 secondssomeone in the United States dies of cardiovascular disease.
This all sounds pretty scary, and it is. But “90% of heart disease is preventable,” Cho said. And these preventable measures are outlined in the recent update from the American Heart Association The essentials of life 8which is described by the AHA as “key steps to improving and maintaining cardiovascular health.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Sleep is now included in the guidelines.
For the first time, sleep is included in heart health guidelines because it’s “vital for cardiovascular health,” according to the AHA. Adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night to have an optimal immune system, for the restoration of cells, blood vessels and tissues, to improve brain function and to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
“There’s a lot of data on Americans who don’t get enough sleep or who sleep poorly, and we know a lot more about the fact that you sleep poorly, it really increases your risk factor for cardiovascular disease, but also things like high blood pressure and heart failure,” Cho said.
She added that studies show sleep deprivation can also increase cardiovascular risk factors like obesity and diabetes. “It’s a vicious circle,” she says.
And there’s even more risk for people with sleep apnea, a condition in which you stop breathing while you sleep. The condition has “been linked to things like high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and heart failure,” Cho said, noting that it’s important to talk to your doctors about the quality of your sleep to see if you suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep. publish.
Second-hand smoke and vaping are now official risk factors (even though they were already well-known risks).
Quitting smoking has always been an important way to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, but now the guidelines explicitly include the dangers of secondhand smoke and vaping.
According to the AHA, “about one-third of American children ages 3 to 11 are exposed to second-hand smoke or vaping,” and both 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 releases nicotine, which is highly addictive, she said.
Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night can help you maintain or improve your heart health.
The guidelines also emphasize the importance of other healthy lifestyle habits.
In addition to quitting smoking and getting good sleep, the guidelines include things proven to help maintain and/or improve heart health: exercise, eat well, control cardiovascular risk factors and more.
It can seem quite daunting to commit to all of these goals, but you can do it little by little until you create a new routine. Try going for a 21-minute walk several times a week, for example. Once you’re ready, you can increase your frequency every day, which Harvard Health says can reduce your risk of heart disease by 30%.
More ways to start your journey to heart health? Make an appointment to check your cholesterol and blood pressure or swap salads for lunch a few days a week.
The American Heart Association encourages everyone to follow these guidelines in addition to those mentioned above:
Eat well: Maintain a diet of lean protein (like chicken and turkey), fruits, vegetables, nuts and more. The guidelines also pointed out that a Mediterranean diet (a diet rich in vegetables, beans, fish and fruit) is good for reducing heart disease.
To be active: The AHA says adults should get at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (like running or swimming) or 2.5 hours of moderate exercise (like gardening or brisk walking) each week.
Monitor your weight: It is important to watch your weight because obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Monitoring your cholesterol: Having high cholesterol, especially high low-density lipoprotein or LDL (also known as bad cholesterol), can cause strokes, heart disease and more.
Monitoring your blood sugar: High blood sugar can cause heart and kidney damage.
Manage your blood pressure: High blood pressure can put you at a higher risk of heart attack and heart disease, According to the CDC.
“HHonestly, it’s not bad news, it’s great news…you can do something about your heart health, Cho said.
For more help on your journey to better heart health, Cho pointed out that you’re not alone — you can talk to your doctor about your goals and find resources through the AAmerican Heart Associationthe American College of Cardiology Where Cleveland Clinic.