5 ways to keep your heart healthy

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States among men, women, and most racial or ethnic groups, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In the U.S., someone has a heart attack about every 40 seconds, according to the CDC, which also attributes 1 in 5 deaths in this country to heart disease.

Some simple lifestyle changes can help improve heart health.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. It can damage the lining of blood vessels causing clots to form that restrict blood flow. Quitting smoking has many health benefits and greatly decreases the risk for heart disease.
  • Exercise. The American Heart Association notes that 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity benefits the heart. Exercise can lower blood pressure and cholesterol and keep weight at a healthy level, lowering the risk for heart disease. It can be as simple as a 10-minute walk, three times a day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity puts adults at high risk for heart disease and other diseases like cancer and diabetes. Obese children have a greater risk for heart disease later in life. Maintaining a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI) can help lower the risk for heart disease.
  • Manage health conditions. Certain health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol can increase the risk for heart disease. If diet and exercise don’t reduce blood pressure or cholesterol, medication may help. Regular checkups also will help catch any signs of heart disease early.
  • Reduce stress. Studies have shown a relationship between heart disease and stress. Stress can also lead to behaviors such as smoking or overeating, which puts people at a higher risk for heart disease. Exercise and getting a good night’s rest can help reduce stress.

630 Naperville guest Aman Ali, M.D., is a cardiologist with Midwest Cardiovascular Institute at Edward-Elmhurst Health.