Have you heard about Life’s Essential 8? It’s an important checklist to help you take care of your heart and enjoy a longer, healthier life.
Life’s Essential 8 can help you understand how to make healthier choices in how you live your life every day. You also can learn why important numbers, like blood pressure and body mass measurements, tell an important story about your overall health and well-being.
8 healthy habits for a healthier heart
Get healthy sleep. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Children require more sleep, based on age. Adequate slumber boosts your brain power, helps you heal from injuries or illness and can reduce your risk of heart disease.
Quit tobacco. Nicotine inhaled from traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes, vaping, even secondhand exposure puts your health at risk. In fact, tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S. Tobacco is associated with about a third of deaths caused by heart disease.
Eat better. A healthy eating pattern includes whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds. Olive and canola cooking oils are better for your heart than tropical ones, such as coconut or palm.
Be more active. Just 30 minutes of moderate activity most days – or 150 minutes a week – can make a difference in your overall health. Feeling more energetic? Go for 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. Children need 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
Manage weight. The first step in weight control is to know your body mass index – or BMI. That tells you if you carry the right pounds for your height. Higher BMI numbers indicate you have more body fat and may be at risk for a number of health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.
Control cholesterol. High levels of bad cholesterol can lead to heart disease. That’s why it’s important to know your numbers for two types of cholesterol – HDL and LDL. Your healthcare provider can measure your blood cholesterol and help you understand how the levels affect your overall health.
Manage blood sugar. Your body turns most of the food you eat into glucose (or blood sugar) that it uses as energy. However, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. That’s why it’s important to keep blood sugar in control, particularly if you have diabetes or a diagnosis of prediabetes.
- Manage blood pressure. The two numbers that make up your blood pressure reading indicate how hard your heart works to pump blood through your arteries. High blood pressure means you are at higher risk for heart disease and stroke. It’s considered the silent killer, since you usually have no symptoms to warn you of a possible problem. Talk with your healthcare provider about how to keep your blood pressure in a healthy range.
This checklist may sound familiar. It’s based on Life’s Simple 7 that the American Heart Association (AHA) introduced in 2010. Over a decade later, the AHA used scientific data to update the recommendations to promote lifelong good health.
Talk with your healthcare provider about ways to change everyday habits into a heart-healthy lifestyle. Need a primary care provider? Find a Goshen Physicians office that’s convenient for you or call (574) 537-5000.