Tips to live heart healthy from Priority Health

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, according to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention. The good news – a study at Harvard found that 200,000 heart disease and stroke deaths are preventable each year through lifestyle changes. February, American Heart Month, is the perfect time to make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of good heart health such as adding exercise to your daily routine, scheduling a visit to talk to your doctor about your heart and eating healthier.

Valentine’s Day typically involves sweet treats – be it candy, chocolate or baked goods. This year, shower your loved ones with heart healthy goodies instead. Check out the video above for three yummy recipes.

Recipe for pistachio crusted tuna steaks.
Recipe for baby kale breakfast salad.

There’s no doubt that healthy eating, regular physical activity, not smoking and maintaining a healthy weight is essential for heart health. So powerful, in fact, those who check “yes” to all four of these reduce their risk for all chronic diseases, by roughly 80 percent.

Holistic ways to promote heart health:

Spend time with people you love. According to research published in Psychosomatic Medicine, spending time with your loved ones may lower your blood pressure. What’s more, researchers from the University of Vienna found that the hormone oxytocin was released into the bloodstream when hugging a loved one. This hormone helps lower blood pressure, reduce stress and ease anxiety — all important for heart health.

Laugh often. Recent research from the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine found that laughter actually helps to expand our blood vessels — enabling blood to flow more freely to our heart. These results were so significant that they were found to produce a similar benefit as aerobic exercise or statin use.

Get enough sleep. Like many other health habits, the key is consistency. For heart health, it is recommended to get between seven to nine hours a night.

Play with your pet. The “pet effect” in part is due to the power of touch, which has a calming effect, shown to help alleviate stress. Dog owners were especially receptive to heart-protecting benefits, likely because dog owners tend to get more exercise.

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