Top Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy
Do you know someone who has been affected by heart disease? Statistically, it’s very likely. According to The Heart Foundation, “heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.”
This February is Heart Month, a time when the medical community amplifies the important discussion around heart-healthy behaviors. Heart disease prevention should be top of mind this month and throughout the year, and here’s why:
- Coronary heart disease accounts for one in seven deaths.
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for most racial or ethnic groups in our country, including African Americans, nearly half of whom have some form of it.
- The CDC reports that every 37 seconds, someone dies from cardiovascular disease, while every 40 seconds someone suffers a heart attack.
The good news is that many different types of heart disease, including coronary artery and vascular disease can be prevented. Poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol, stress and additional lifestyle factors can lead to dangerously high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes which all contribute to progressing heart disease.
For all of us, lifestyle choices play an important role in fighting heart disease, but this is especially true for those with high risk factors like gender, age, ethnicity and a family history of heart disease.
Heart Disease Prevention
Here are four simple steps that everyone can take to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve overall health:
- Limit or eliminate the consumption of high fat foods and excessive alcohol, focusing instead on heart-healthy eating. This includes reducing salt and saturated fats and increasing the variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and fish in your diet.
- Identify and manage your blood pressure, stress, and any other related conditions such as diabetes. Regular check-ins with your doctor beyond your annual check-up is important to managing your heart health. Never put off appointments! Your physician plays an important role in heart disease prevention.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the key factors in preventing heart disease, and to do so you’ll need to get an adequate amount of exercise, ideally every day but at the very least a few times a week. Walking, swimming and other forms of exercise that you enjoy such as dancing or biking will help you stick to a routine.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep each night and take time to meditate or participate in other forms of relaxation to help reduce stress and give your body the proper rest it needs. Learn more about why sleep is beneficial for your heart health.
As the American Heart Association reported recently, while heart disease continues to be a primary concern, there is hope as the rate of heart-related deaths has declined somewhat since 2018. This is good news, especially for those who are taking a proactive approach to their heart health.
To learn more about what you can do for your heart, visit any of the resources listed above for more information.