Health Female Adda
1 year ago
13 Habits You Need to Lock Down NOW to Keep Your Heart Healthy LATER

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The stats are pretty scary: Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women, striking one out of four females. And even more shocking, your risk of heart disease is three times that of your lifetime risk of breast cancer. Yet for some reason, this sneaky killer maintains a reputation as a health threat for men only. As a result, too many women blow off the facts. Well, we're here to sound the alarm and make the case that now is the time to take on healthy-heart behaviors. Adopt these habits now, and your ticker will thank you for years to come.

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Aim for an Hour of Daily Exercise

We get it, you're busy, but this habit packs incredible benefits. Women of all ages who were moderately active for 60 minutes per day (or vigorously active for 30 minutes daily) were 46 percent less likely to develop heart failure, according to a recent American Heart Association study. That might seem like major gym commitment, but hear us out. Even if you can’t meet the 30- or 60-minute threshold every day, the study authors say that a low level of activity will still benefit your ticker. And for the record, the CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week—about 20 minutes of sweating every day.

Read more: 7 Ways to Get Your Butt in Gear When You Have Zero Motivation to Work Out

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Start Running

Though it’s true that any kind of moderate or vigorous activity slashes your risk, running might have an edge. A new study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that running (even if it’s not on the regular and at a slow speed), could cut your risk of death from heart disease by 45 percent.

Read more: 11 Ways Running is Great for Your Health

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Monitor Your Mental Health

In addition to noticing your pre-period mood slump, pay attention to other mental health changes and talk to a doctor or therapist if anything seems off. Women under age 55 with moderate or severe depression have more than two times the odds of developing a potentially fatal heart problem, like a heart attack, according to the Journal of the American Heart Association. If you have any reason to think you might be suffering from clinical depression—symptoms include persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness for more than two weeks, as well as suicidal thoughts and changes in eating and sleeping habits—talk to a doctor or therapist who can help.

Read more: How to Find a Good Therapist

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Stop Smoking—For Good

Sorry, but it bears repeating: Any smoking at all boosts your risk of heart disease and stroke as much as two to four times that of nonsmokers, according to the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign. Plus, women who smoke are 25 percent more likely to develop heart disease than male puffers, reports the campaign.

Read more: 4 Major Problems with Social Smoking

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Devote Time to Your Relationship

Being in a healthy relationship can actually protect your heart. One study found that people who don’t feel like their partner has their back emotionally have higher rates of coronary artery calcification, also known as the hardening of the arteries that can eventually result in a heart attack. Researchers think it might have to do with the fact that when you don’t feel supported, you’re more stressed out, and stress has a negative effect on heart health. So pay extra attention to your relationship and ensure that both you and your partner are being supportive and understanding.

Read more: 6 Strange Ways Your Relationship Influences Your Health

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Look on the Bright Side of Things

That doesn't mean you need to whitewash all negativity from life, but optimism and cheerfulness have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, particularly for those with a family history of the condition. How does it help? Researchers think a positive mindset can buffer stress, a stealth cause of heart disease.

Read more: 8 Times You Shouldn't Feel Guilty for Being Happy

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Eat Like a Mediterranean

Pile your plate with fresh fruits and veggies, plant protein sources such as beans and nuts, and olive oil, all of which contain monosaturated “good” fats. These help keep blood pressure down and lower levels of LDL cholesterol, a contributor to the formation of artery-blocking plaque. No wonder people who eat a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil and nuts are 30 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease, reports a study in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Read more: 5 Mediterranean Weight-Loss Secrets You Should Steal

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Have More Sex

As if you needed another reason, right? Hitting the sheets at least twice a week helps lower blood pressure and stress levels, two big risk factors for heart issues. You don’t have to reach orgasm to score the benefits, nor do you even need a partner. Just feeling aroused appears to trigger a rush of hormones that crank up blood flow.

Read more: 15 Fantastic Reasons to Have Sex Tonight

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Scale Way Back on the Soda

Seriously, it's time to kick this habit. Drinking excessive amounts of soda can lead to irregular heart function, according to a study presented at the European Heart Rhythm Association meeting in Athens. The study authors think that soda, a diuretic thanks to its high levels of sugar and caffeine, flushes out potassium levels in the body—and proper potassium is crucial to maintaining heart functioning. So make a point to limit your soda consumption to as little of the sweet stuff as possible. And don’t switch over to diet soda: Since artificially sweetened beverages are associated with weight gain and obesity, they carry a different kind of heart-health risk.

Read more: How Soda Destroys Your Body

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Floss Every Day

A woman’s odds of having heart disease double if she has gum disease, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Gum disease can lead to bacteria bleeding into your mouth, which can lead to inflammation that stresses out your heart. Flossing is one of the best ways to banish oral bacteria, so it's a simple first line of defense.

Read more: 8 Super-Annoying Mouth Problems, Solved

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Don't Pop Too Many OTC Pain Relievers

People who take high daily doses of NSAIDs like ibuprofen have a higher chance of suffering heart attack or death from heart disease, according to a study in The Lancet. (NSAIDs called naproxens, however, didn’t seem to increase heart risks, according to the study.) If you’re in enough pain or discomfort that you pop these pain meds daily, talk to your doctor about the risks and if there’s a safer alternative.

Read more: 9 Natural Pain Relievers

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Drink More Tea

Green and black tea contain compounds that can help reduce levels of bad cholesterol. Tea can also improve arterial function, and sipping it before bed is an excellent, easy stress-buster. Just skip the bottled versions, which tend to have lots of sugar, and make your own brew instead.  

Read more: 4 Great and 4 Terrible Things for Your Heart

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Score Quality Sleep Every Night

A pile of research demonstrates that a bad night’s rest plays a role in heart disease. One study showed that insomnia can raise your heart attack risk slightly, while another showed that poor sleep quality increased the risk of high blood pressure, a known heart attack risk factor.

Read more: 10 Sleep Myths—Busted

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