Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is a strong advocate of preventive care and according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in America. In fact, taking care of your heart may be one of the most important things you can do to improve your health and increase longevity, but how can you improve heart health? Truthfully, it’s nothing we don’t already know, but a few small, deliberate changes this year could make all the difference.
Here are 5 easy things you can do to improve the condition of your heart:
- RELAX: This may sound simple, but in today’s fast-paced, media-driven society, finding time to relax can be tough. It’s important for your heart, however, that you make relaxation a priority in your day. The kind of relaxation that relieves stress calms tension in your body and mind and can relax blood vessels in the heart, which results in lower blood pressure. Deliberate relaxation involves purposefully sitting quietly twice daily for 10-15 minutes. You should find a distraction-free zone where you can close your eyes and breathe deeply, focusing on the intake and output of oxygen. Relaxing with purpose can be a life-saving activity.
- EAT SMART: Heart-healthy foods include salmon, oatmeal, blueberries, dark chocolate, red wine, tomatoes, nuts, avocado and green leafy vegetables. Choosing a few times a week to swap a less healthy protein such as beef or pork for a leaner protein such as fish can decrease your risk of heart disease substantially. Good fish options include sardines, anchovies, salmon, herring, trout, and canned white tuna.
- STOP SMOKING: Smoking is just bad for your heart. It increases heart rate and blood pressure and can lead to blood clots in the blood vessels. Health insurance plans are typically 20% more expensive for people who smoke and this is the only health question you will be asked on an insurance application under the Affordable Care Act. The savings alone is reason enough to quit, but your heart will thank you also! Apply with BCBSNC today for your lower rate.
- LIMIT CAFFEINE INTAKE: Caffeine is present in coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate. Be moderate in your consumption and try limiting your intake to no more than a cup or two a day of caffeinated beverages. If you like soda, sparkling water is an excellent substitute and will give you all of the fizz without any of the negative health effects.
- GET SOME SLEEP: When it comes to being heart healthy, getting a good night of sleep is paramount. Poor sleep quality adds stress to your heart and can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure. When it comes to your heart, getting sufficient sleep is just as important as maintaining diet and exercise.
It’s nothing new. In fact, it’s just what Mom always told you. Eat right, get some rest, and avoid bad habits that take a toll on your heart. It’s a new year and making these few simple changes could give your heart a whole new chance at life! BCBSNC supports heart health by offering preventive care services covered at 100%. Contact one of our licensed and professional agents to discuss your Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina options.
For more information, please visit our website at www.nchealthplans.com or call our toll free number 888-765-5400 and speak with one of our experienced and professional agents.