February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is something we often overlook if we aren’t directly affected, but the stats of this disease are a little staggering. In fact, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. While this is a frightening statistic, rest assured that heart disease is often preventable with healthy lifestyle choices. Below we will detail some steps you can take to control your heart health.
First, let’s discuss some factors that can put you at risk for heart disease.
- High Blood Pressure – Millions of Americans have high blood pressure that is not under control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conclude that having control over your blood pressure is a great way to prevent heart disease.
- High Blood Cholesterol – High cholesterol is known to be unhealthy, but did you also know that it’s also a leading contributor to heart disease? Contributing factors to high cholesterol include obesity, smoking and an unhealthy diet.
- Smoking – Smoking is a leading cancer and heart disease contributor. Double whammy! This is because smoking damages blood vessels which can lead to heart disease.
- Diabetes – Diabetes causes blood sugar to spike and buildup in the blood. This combination can cause damage to the vessels and nerves that maintain the heart muscle.
- Lack of Physical Activity – Maintaining physical fitness will help keep your blood and heart vessels healthy. The suggested physical guidelines for a healthy heart equates to about 150 minutes a week, or 30-minute sessions 5 times a week.
This information seems intimidating, but fret not! There are plenty of things you can do to take care of your heart right now. If you implement these changes not only will you feel better, but your heart will thank you!
- Get plenty of sleep – Lack of sleep can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. These factors all increase your risk of heart disease. It is recommended we aim for 7-9 hours a sleep a night.
- Don’t Smoke – Cigarettes raise your blood pressure and puts you at a much higher risk for heart disease. Are you a smoker who needs assistance with quitting? Check out our tobacco page to learn about our FREE cessation groups. If you are not in the Florida region call the National Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for cessation opportunities in your area.
- Manage stress – Stress is linked to heart disease because it raises your blood pressure. Stress can even be a “trigger” to heart attacks. Positive ways to manage stress can be exercise, journaling, meditating, drawing or listening to music. Find something you enjoy that brings you peace and stick with that!
- A healthy diet – This seems like a no-brainer, but what we put in our bodies has a massive effect on our heart health. Try to eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, limit alcohol and drink plenty of water. Keeping processed foods to a minimum will make your heart happier in the long run. For tips on eating healthy check out our blog series here.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease because of other heart related factors like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Implementing a healthy diet with a moderate exercise schedule can greatly reduce your risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Heart disease can be a scary topic, but following these suggestions can drastically improve your heart health. This February try to be conscious of your heart health and in return your heart will show you the love.
*Individual results may vary
|Summer is currently employed at SRAHEC as the Professional Education & Marketing Coordinator.|