I don’t want to scare you, but cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death all around the world including developed countries. One of the main issues with cardiovascular diseases is that it is not only age or any other single specific risk factor; it is an outcome of both bad lifestyle and your genes. You may even think that we cannot do anything for risky genes, but to be honest it is not that straight forward. Changing lifestyle in the long run may in fact alter your genes and protect you from cardiac diseases all the way from the core of your cells. The most important thing to do to protect yourself from cardiovascular disease is to ditch bad habits and implement good ones in your daily life. As the heart is the core of your body, we as cardiovascular doctors and researchers believe that if we protect your heart and provide it with the best conditions, we will boost your odds for a better healthy life. Every day you may be hearing all types of advice that might be true and useful, but today I will summarize the scientifically proven core tricks for you.

Increase Physical activity:

I know that mentioning physical activity is not surprising, but I am happy to repeat an unlimited number of times. Just like your other muscles, the heart also grows stronger with exercise. You may not be lifting weights with it, but it lifts tons of blood for your body every single day, which increases with physical activity. You may have not noticed or calculated earlier, but your heart – on average – pumps about eight tons of blood every day without getting tired. What a muscle! Physical activity doesn’t just make your heart stronger, but it also gives it the flexibility to adjust to particular conditions.

Research has shown that running improves cardiovascular fitness in addition to increasing the flexibility of arteries. Exercise and altered blood circulation causes a differentiation in heart muscle tonus and vascular resistance. This teaches your heart and muscles how to react in high stress conditions – it teaches your heart to cope with hypertension.

The achieved flexibility helps to boost blood flow to the heart that results in reducing the chances of hardening of the arteries that can lead to a heart attack or so called atherosclerosis. Not only running, but intermittent physical activity is also important. We all have some time to spare for something, why can’t it be your heart? The American Heart Association advises that as little as 30 minutes a day, four to five times a week of even walking can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Physical activity might also help to shape up your waistline and reduce your odds for other diseases including fatty liver, diabetes, cancer, et cetera.

Reduce salt:

Another bit of well-known advice is to go slow on your salt intake: Too much salt has been proven to damage blood vessels and increase your risk of developing hypertension. Most of you might listen to this, but many people continue to put salt on their food even before tasting it! On average, people consume more than double the amount of salt that is recommended – the American Heart Association recommends 1,500 milligrams of sodium every day. But here is a clue on how to remove excess salt from your diet: Get away from processed foods! Almost three quarters of your daily salt intake comes from processed foods – not the saltshaker on your table – so beware!

The best way to control salt intake is to either cook at home or replace salt with spice combinations, since you are using both for taste.

Listen to music:

Much of the published literature proves music’s positive effect on your mood; yes, it makes all of us feel good. Everyone’s choice might be different, but it really doesn’t matter, there is always a type that feeds your soul. Moreover, we see that mus i c can also reduce blood pressure. In scientific terms, listening to music can reduce your high and low blood pressure as well as your heart rate. I am not saying that you will stop taking your hypertension meds, but music may suppress your hypertension attack episodes. Although all types of music might have a positive effect on mood, when it comes to the heart it changes.

According to the published research, the tempo of the music being listened to affects the heart. A faster tempo increases blood pressure, while a more relaxed and slower tempo reduces it.

Use heart-healthy fats:

The misunderstanding that all fats are bad pushes people to practice fat-free diets that may in turn increase the risk of fat-soluble vitamin deficiencies. The major fats people should avoid are trans fats, which are partially hydrogenated ones or the saturated ones.

The major issue with trans fats is that they cause spikes in cholesterol levels. Of course, the heart healthy oil that is at the top of the list is extravirgin olive oil. It is full of monounsaturated fatty acids that reduce the risk of heart disease since they lower bad cholesterol.

According to the research, the major antioxidants in olive oil, called DHPEA-EDA, protect red blood cells from damage.

Since your blood cells are your body’s oxygen carrier trucks, they are susceptible to oxidative damage. Just don’t forget to limit heating olive oil above 155 degrees Celsius:

When olive oil is heated above its smoking point, it breaks into free radicals that do more harm than good.