Ways to Improve Heart Health

ways to improve heart health

Find out more about improving heart health with healthy weight and blood sugar levels.

Learning how to manage your diabetes also means learning how to protect your heart. There are a variety of ways to improve heart health that begin with simple lifestyle changes.  Diabetes complications that can affect the heart include blood vessel and nerve damage, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, and high cholesterol. Blood vessels and nerves are essential components that aid in the function of the heart, so if a diabetic begins to develop nerve and blood vessel damage, it can seriously impact heart function. Because heart attacks and strokes are the primary source of death among individuals with diabetes, improving heart health can lower the risk of experiencing a heart attack and stroke. How do I improve heart health? Below are some helpful suggestions:

  1. Weight

If you are overweight or obese it will negatively impact your heart health. Excess weight can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. Improving heart health begins with losing excess weight. Begin to eat a healthy diet that contains no more than 1,600 to 1,800 calories for women and 1,800 to 2,000 calories for men. Continue working toward your ideal weight with the proper diet, regular exercise, and medications (if necessary).

  1. Blood Sugar

Your blood sugar levels can have a direct impact on your heart, kidneys, blood vessels, feet and eyes. For improving heart health, you must also improve your blood sugar levels. So how do I improve heart health? Diet and exercise are major contributors to maintaining an ideal blood sugar level, which ranges from 70 to 130 mg/dl before meals and below 180 about 2 hours after your meal began. You should regularly check your blood sugar levels and take any prescribed medications too. Your doctor will also want to take an A1C glycated hemoglobin test.

  1. Smoking

Smoking is known to narrow the blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease. Blood vessel damage caused by smoking can also affect the legs, increasing the chance of diabetes complications such as foot ulcers, infections, impaired healing, and amputation. Smoking can also increase the risk of lung disease and cancer. If you are still smoking and have diabetes, now is the time to quit before you begin to develop any of these complications. This is one of the ways to improve heart health.

  1. Hypertension

Another one of the ways to improve heart health is to keep your blood pressure in the ideal range. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, puts more stress on your blood vessel walls and can make your heart work harder than it should have to. High blood pressure can damage your heart, leading to a heart attack or stroke. The ideal blood pressure range for most diabetics is 140/90 mm Hg. Ask your doctor what your ideal range is. Some ways to improve heart health is to manage your blood pressure through diet, exercise, and weight management. You should also stop smoking, limit your salt intake and take any prescribed blood pressure medications. Lifestyle changes play an important part in managing your blood pressure.

  1. Cholesterol

High LDL cholesterol levels can damage artery walls causing atherosclerosis, which can cause heart attacks. How do I improve heart health if I have high LDL cholesterol? Again, diet is very important in affecting your cholesterol levels. Some foods contain soluble fiber that helps to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the bloodstream. Foods such as oatmeal, apples, barley, kidney beans, and prunes will help you improve high LDL cholesterol levels.

Improving heart health means improving your lifestyle. Some ways to improve heart health include: eating a healthy diet, increasing your physical activity, avoiding stress, getting enough sleep, stop smoking, limiting alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight. Learning a new lifestyle is a process that requires time to adjust, but eventually is will become your normal, everyday routine.

Sources:

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/treatment-and-care/blood-glucose-control/tight-diabetes-control.html

http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/2012/20120109-diabetes.html

http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/lower-your-risk/cholesterol.html

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/heart-disease-stroke#lower

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