As the No. 1 killer of men and women in the U.S., cardiovascular disease must be taken seriously. Heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure cause one out of every three deaths, and are the largest sources of serious illness and disability. Take the opportunity during American Heart Month to protect yourself. Join us on Feb. 10 for a heart health screening from 8-11 a.m. at Fox10 News Station and three Infirmary Health locations in South Alabama. The first 100 people will receive their screenings for free!
Additionally, spend some time this February learning the risk factors of heart disease and becoming familiar with preventive measures so you can take charge of your heart health.
Some risk factors you have no control over, including gender, age and family history. Others are known as modifiable risk factors, which means you can make changes to reduce your chance of developing cardiovascular disease. These include:
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Physical inactivity
- Obesity and overweight
- Poor diet
Your risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases with each risk factor. Despite more than 17 million deaths each year, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
• Eat Healthy
The quality of the food you consume is just as important as the amount you consume. Steer away from processed foods and aim for the freshest fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats you can find. Pay attention to the Nutrition Facts label and avoid foods high in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.
Additionally, eating healthy doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are a few tips for planning a healthy menu on a budget.
• Control Your Weight
You should aim to burn as many calories as you take in to avoid gaining weight, and burn more than you consume to lose weight. Also, stay mindful of serving size vs. portion size when serving up meals and snacks. One way to manage your intake is to divvy up snacks into pre-measured portions rather than eating straight from the box or bag.
• Get Active
The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week OR 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. A combination of the two works well too. And while making time for physical activity should be a top priority, some form of activity is better than none! Keep going until you find the perfect exercise for you!
• Quit Smoking
Many smokers have the mindset of “It’s too late for me.” But the truth is that your lungs, heart and other organs begin to improve after your last cigarette. In fact, just 20 minutes after quitting, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. One year after quitting, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker and your risk of a heart attack decreases drastically.
The number of deaths caused by heart disease and stroke is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030. Let’s get to work making sure that doesn’t happen!