Here are a few other ways to care for your heart.
Check your blood pressure
Blood pressure measures how hard your heart has to work to pump blood throughout your body. High blood pressure means your heart is working overtime. That can lead to a higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke. It can also affect other body parts, such as your kidneys, eyes and brain.1 There aren’t many obvious symptoms for high blood pressure. That’s why it is important to have regular checkups.
Watch your cholesterol
Your doctor will also tell you if you have high cholesterol. Total cholesterol is made up of HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. HDL cholesterol is the “good” kind of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is known as the “bad” kind because it clogs your arteries.
High cholesterol occurs when you have more LDL than HDL. While high cholesterol can increase your risk of stroke and heart attack,2 there are plenty of ways to stay healthy. Talk to your doctor about improving your diet and adding exercise into your day.
Take your medications
It’s important to take your medications exactly as your doctor prescribed. It is even more important if you have a history of stroke or heart attack. Your medications can help lower your risk for another stroke or heart attack by:
- Keeping your cholesterol low,
- Your blood flowing smoothly, and
- Preventing plaque buildup in your blood vessels.
Some tips to help you remember to take medications include using a pillbox or downloading a medication reminder app on your smartphone.
Always get a full night of sleep
Lack of sleep may put you at higher risk for high blood pressure and, as a result, heart disease and stroke.3 Set a schedule for seven to eight hours of sleep most nights. Then stick to it, even on the weekends.
1Mayo Clinic: High blood pressure (hypertension). https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410. Accessed on April 1, 2019.
2WebMD: Diseases Linked to High Cholesterol. https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/guide/diseases-linked-high-cholesterol. Accessed on April 1, 2019.
3Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health? https://www.cdc.gov/features/sleep-heart-health/index.html. Accessed on April 1, 2019.