Improving your heart health is important year-round, but the topic is especially talked about each February during American Heart Month. While the rate of deaths from heart disease has steadily declined over the past several decades, it is still the leading killer of Americans. We can improve our heart health and work to manage risk of cardiovascular disease by making smart – but simple – choices in our daily routines.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Practice healthy eating habits.
Focus on eating foods that are low in sodium and fat (especially saturated and trans fats). Fruits and vegetables should be consumed on a daily basis, and whole grains and fish should be staples in your diet too. Limit your intake of red meat, sugary beverages and overly processed foods.
Get regular physical activity.
Adults should aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise. A combination of the two is beneficial as well. Also remember – exercise can be fun and can fit into your schedule! Take a long walk with a friend, play an active game with the kids, or do a few push ups in between household chores. Any way you can get moving benefits your heart health and helps you maintain a healthy weight.
Schedule routine wellness checkups.
Scheduling regular checkups with your physician is a great way to keep track of various risk factors, including blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index, blood glucose and more. By monitoring these risk factors, you can make positive changes to improve your health and maintain a healthy heart.
Join Infirmary Health on Feb. 23 for a free heart screening at one of the locations listed below. No appointment required!
Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
Smoking and secondhand smoke are related to approximately one-third of deaths from coronary heart disease. Smoking is the most preventable risk factor for heart disease and stroke. In fact, one year after quitting smoking, the risk for coronary heart disease is reduced by about 50 percent!
Establish healthy ways to deal with stress.
While studies are still underway to determine if stress directly causes heart disease, managing stress in healthy ways is crucial for a person’s overall health. Chronic and excess stress can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Exercise, meditation, getting enough sleep and practicing healthy habits on a daily basis are all great methods to combat stress and remain calm.
Other ways to maintain a healthy heart:
- Keep a record of your family’s heart health history.
- Learn the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke.
Taking good care of your heart is key to maintaining your overall health and wellbeing. Some risk factors cannot be changed, but many can be kept in check to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Check out all of our resources, and get started today!