People who sleep less than six hours a night show two times the risk of developing heart disease than those who get 7 to 8 hours. Sleep helps to regulate insulin activity, and lack of sleep causes your cells to be more resistant to insulin, which results in higher blood sugars and may contribute to weight gain and heart disease. Exhaustion is another symptom of heart disease that is often ignored in women. If you notice that you're persistently exhausted, even after sleeping well, consult your doctor.
Next: Reduce your risk
Your weight matters, but your waistline can be an even better indicator of your heart health. Women with waistlines over 35 inches and men whose waistlines measure over 40 inches are at increased risk of heart disease. Studies show that losing even just 5 to 10% of your weight can significantly improve your heart health. And 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times a week will help to strengthen your heart and reduce high cholesterol and high blood pressure, especially if combined with a Mediterranean diet. Try out this heart-healthy recipe packed with omega-3s.
Next: Laughter is the best medicine
Laughter truly is the best medicine. Your body responds to laughter by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Having lower levels of stress and cortisol can decrease our blood pressure and help boost our mood and immunity. Studies suggest that individuals with depression are twice as likely to have a heart attack, so make sure to add a dose of laughter to your life every day! Find out more about how your mood affects your heart.
Next: A drink a day can keep heart disease at bay
Wondering about your heart health? Take this quiz to find out if you’re at risk for heart disease.
Find out how you can recognize the uncommon symptoms that might indicate you’re having a heart attack.
Keep your blood sugar levels in check with these food suggestions.