Heart disease is an umbrella term for conditions affecting the function and structure of the heart. Most common among these is coronary heart disease.

More than 11 percent of adults in America have heart disease so it’s a relatively common diagnosis. Left unchecked, cardiovascular diseases are life-threatening. In fact, more than 600,000 people in the US die from heart disease every year.

That said, a diagnosis of heart disease doesn’t serve as an immediate death sentence. Studies have shown that people who get proactive about their condition and make the necessary lifestyle changes live significantly longer than those who do not.

Here, we’re going to go over five key ways to increase longevity if you have heart disease.

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Get regular exercise

Your heart is muscle just like any other muscle. To function as well as it can, it needs to be worked out or trained. Cardiovascular (cardio) exercise is a type of exercise that improves your heart’s health.

To get some cardio into your daily routine, consider taking up jogging or even long walks. Start slowly at first and push a little harder once your body becomes used to a certain activity level. Jogging is excellent for heart disease and the benefits can be gained after as little as ten minutes per day.

Swimming is also a good cardiovascular activity and places less strain on your knees and joints.

Working out regularly will also help you shed any excess pounds. Being overweight or obese places more stress on your heart and your circulatory system. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for everyone, but it’s doubly important for those with heart disease.

Work with a dietician

We could all stand to tidy up our diets a bit. But if you have heart disease, this is a key way to improve both the length and the quality of your life.

Your dietician will design a tailor-made meal plan for you that rids excess sodium from your diet and increases the number of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables you eat. You should also avoid saturated fats and sugary foods.

Follow the DASH diet as much as possible.

Stop smoking

Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, COPD and a whole host of other chronic health problems. You already know it’s bad for you so perhaps now is the time to finally butt it out for good. Stopping smoking will reduce the risk of blood clots, secondary heart attacks, and sudden cardiac death.

As an added bonus, your clothes and breath will also smell a lot nicer!

Relax, smile, and try to de-stress

Stress has a more powerful effect on your body than you might have previously thought. In fact, studies have shown a direct correlation between stress levels and high blood pressure; a cardiovascular risk factor.

Managing stress is often easier said than done. Try and get some support if it’s needed. Therapists can help if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, as too can your family and friends. Some people find exercise, meditation, yoga, and other recreational activities effective for relieving stress.

Haym Salomon Home for Nursing & Rehabilitation in Brooklyn has numerous cardiac-trained therapists on staff. If you are a loved one are living with heart disease and need some help, please get in touch with us. We have the skills and the expertise needed.

This content comprises informative and educational resources only and can not be considered as a substitute for professional health or medical guidance. Reliance on any information provided in this article is solely at your own risk. If you have any inquiries or apprehensions about your medical condition or health goals, talk with a licensed physician or healthcare provider.