It’s easy to become immune to all the messages in the media about heart health.  From commercials on television that sell you on “heart-healthy” foods such as Cheerios, to the magazine and online articles that blast the dangers of heart disease, it’s not hard to see why the information may sound like a broken record after a while.

But the fact remains: heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States and Canada, killing approximately one in three people.  To make it really hit home, look at the loved ones around you and imagine one of every three of them dying . . . and dying far too young.  The American Heart Association reports that “More women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined.”  That’s truly what we’re dealing with, and why taking care of your heart’s health is SO important.

5 Biggest Risk Factors
The American Heart Association has made the month of February “American Heart Month”. This is a good reminder for us to take a look at ourselves… and our health. And maybe initiate some simple healthy changes to our lifestyle. To help you know where to begin on your journey to a healthier heart, let’s look at the five greatest heart dangers.

Heart Health Danger #1: Excess Weight
You don’t need to be morbidly obese for your weight to have a negative impact on your heart’s health. If you are carrying an extra 15 or 20 pounds, you are at an increased risk of heart disease and heart attack.  It’s time to stop thinking about weight as something superficial that you can brush off simply as “packing a few extra pounds,” and instead look at it from a health perspective.

If you are overweight, you need do what you can to keep your body healthy – now and into the future. To start, increase your activity levels to improve circulation, and avoid foods that are high in saturated and trans fats that can clog your arteries. Incorporate more vegetables and complex carbohydrates into your daily regimen. As you start to eat healthier and bump up your cardio, you’ll see changes – not only in your waistline, but in your heart’s health as well.

Heart Health Danger #2: High Blood Pressure
Many Doctors refer to high blood pressure as a “silent killer”. High blood pressure greatly increases your risk of heart attack. Not only do many people not know whether or not they suffer from high blood pressure, but many of those that have been diagnosed still fail to keep it controlled even though it can be done with a few lifestyle changes and minimal medication. Keep stress levels down, cut back on salt, and exercise.

Heart Health Danger #3: High Cholesterol
A shocking number of people have no idea what their cholesterol levels are, and this can prove extremely dangerous. Having high levels of LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and low levels of HDL (“good cholesterol”) significantly increases your risk of heart disease.  Know your numbers and make the necessary changes to keep them in check.  Many times cholesterol can be improved through lifestyle changes, eliminating the need for medication.

Heart Health Danger #4:  Stress, Anxiety, and Anger
We all know that feeling stressed, anxious, and angry don’t feel good, but did you know that they can also drastically increase your risk of heart attack?  Letting go of these feelings is easier said than done, for obvious reasons.  But there are natural ways to deal with these feelings so that you can stop allowing them to wreak havoc on your immune system and your heart.  Some things you can try to naturally relieve stress, anger, and anxiety includes relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, massage, counseling, and spending time with loved ones and even your pets.

Heart Health Danger #5: Gum Disease
Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, and studies have found that the health of your gums can impact that of your heart because of the bacteria that travels through the bloodstream.  Regular brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist are all you need to help keep your mouth from hurting your heart.

A Secret Ingredient: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
While we’ve offered some simple tips to improve heart health, there’s one thing you can do that’s incredibly simple when it comes to your heart’s health: get more Omega-3s!
It’s been proven time and time again that Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.  Adding Omega-3s to your diet to help keep your heart healthy is easily done by eating more fish, or even adding an Omega-3 supplement to your diet.  Fish oil supplements and flaxseed oil are easily found in liquid or capsule form, at your local health food store or online.

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