Her Campus, Her Heart: What You Need to Know About Heart Disease

We’ve all seen the scary statistics before. We’ve all seen them, thought for a moment about them, and then carried on with our days. What would happen if we remembered? What would happen if we saw the scary statistic and decided we wouldn’t be a part of it? What if we decided we would fight for our lives?

1 in 3. That is the number of women that will die of heart disease and stroke. In fact, heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. Heart disease kills more people than all cancers combined.

Each year, 600,000 Americans die of heart disease. Want to know something even crazier? Of those deaths, 200,000 are 100% preventable.

That’s 1 in 3. Which statistic do you want to be a part of?

In honor of American Heart Month, Her Campus is here to help with these 8 easy things you can do to start living a heart-healthy lifestyle. Some I’m sure you’ve heard, but some may surprise you!

1. Go to sleep! NOW!

Look, I get it. We’re in college, we’re practically in a relationship with our Netflix accounts, and we’ve got things to do, but sleep is important. One night of inadequate sleep can result in high blood pressure for the following day. Imagine what would happen if you never get a good night’s sleep. Now imagine what would happen if you did.

Source: Pinterest

2. When it comes to stress, just say no!

This is so important. Did you know that you’re more likely to have a heart attack on a Monday than any other day of the week? That is directly attributed to the rise of stress levels from going back to class and work at the start of the week. We get stressed too easily. Trust me, I know. I get overly stressed each time I watch an episode of Pretty Little Liars, let alone the night before a big exam. We have to figure out a way to control that stress and calm our bodies. Whether it’s by taking some things off your plate or taking up yoga or meditation, something has to be done.

3. Apples! Lots and lots of apples!

Eating an apple (or two) a day could actually keep the doctor away. Apples are rich in antioxidants and have cholesterol-lowering powers.

4. Eat more fruits and veggies!

Speaking of apples, fruits in general are good heart-healthy foods to eat along with vegetables. The average American only eats one fruit or vegetable a day. If everyone just upped their servings of fruits and veggies to 8 a day, their risk for heart attack could be decreased by 30%!

5. Be active!

We all know it’s your New Years resolution anyway, so why not just stick to it. If you could just exercise, or at least do something active for 30 minutes a day, your risk for heart disease would decrease dramatically. In fact, on its own, exercise is the single most important preventative measure to lower your chance for heart disease. Even if it’s just riding your bike to class instead of driving, it can make a big difference.

6. Don’t smoke! Like stop. Immediately. Please.

Source: Polyvore

7. Laugh more!

Studies have shown that a good belly laugh can send 20% more blood flowing through your entire body. It relaxes the lining of your blood vessel walls, allowing them to expand and contract more easily. So don’t feel guilty spending a little extra time watching your favorite YouTube vids or Vines. It’s for your health!

Source: Funnyjunk

8. Hug and spread the love!

Studies have shown that hugging can actually have a significant impact on heart health. When you hug a loved one, oxytocin is released, which lowers stress levels. So if you have a crush on that cutie in your lab, you totally have an excuse to hug them and say you’re just trying to help both your hearts! And if it doesn’t work, hopefully you’ll at least get a good laugh?

These are just 8 simple things you can start doing today. What if you did them all? What if you got your whole family to live like this? Together we can change the world. Or at least save 200,000 lives. You can find out more about keeping your heart healthy and happy here and here.