While heart disease remains the leading cause of death in America — African-American men are at the highest risk due to high blood pressure — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made it their goal to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017.
And because February is American Heart Month, it’s only right that we highlight ways to keep your heart healthy.
We’ve been taught how to recognize if we’re having a heart attack: uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea or lightheadedness; and extreme fatigue.
We even shared things you should do to ensure you don’t have a heart attack, like making positive lifestyle changes, reducing stress, and controlling high blood pressure, which is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke.
But rarely do we talk about easy everyday activities that can contribute to necessary lifestyle changes that prevent heart disease.
Here are four things you should know – and do – to keep your heart healthy:
Get Your Rest:
DoctorOz.com reports that people who sleep less than six hours a night are two times more likely than those who get seven to eight hours of sleep to develop heart disease. Why? Sleep helps to regulate insulin activity. A lack of sleep can cause an increase in blood sugars, which can contribute to weight gain and heart disease.
Reduce Your Belly Fat:
According to the Mayo Clinic, visceral fat lives in belly fat and is linked to cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that extra fat around the waistline – even in women who are a normal weight based on standard body mass index measurements – increased the risk of dying of cardiovascular disease.
Research has shown that drinking just one energy drink can increase the risk of heart disease by increasing your blood pressure and heart rate.
Have More Sex:
Reducing your stress can have a positive impact on decreasing your chances of getting heart disease. Sex is a stress reducing activity and having it at least twice a week has been shown to reduce the chances of heart disease in men.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty