February is Heart Month!

on February 19, 2018

Despite recent progress in modern medicine, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Making heart-healthy lifestyle choices and taking control of your cardiovascular risk factors can help prevent or slow down the progression of heart disease.

Here are some everyday lifestyle choices that you can make that are important to your cardiovascular health and will help keep your heart at it’s peak performance throughout the year. Check out these tips to ensure you are not just healthy for now, but healthy for life.

  1. Stay active. Get your heart rate up with at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week.
  2. Limit your consumption of red meat, sugar, and unhealthy fats. Add fruits and vegetables to your diet to increase your fiber consumption.
  3. Reduce your salt intake. You will start to notice subtle flavors in your foods again.
  4. If you are a smoker, try to stop smoking. Smoking not only damages your lungs, but it negatively affects your overall heart health. Once you stop smoking, your odds of developing heart disease can drop rapidly.
  5. Keep your weight under control. Obesity increases the risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and diabetes
  6. Get a good night sleep. Sleep for at least 7-8 hours a night.
  7. Know your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.
  8. Know your blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. There are effective treatments for hypertension in addition to lifestyle modifications of exercise and salt reduction.
  9. Know your blood sugar levels. Ask your doctor if you are at risk. If you are pre-diabetic or have “early” diabetes, lifestyle changes can be effective.
  10. Reduce stress. Stress is a strong risk factor for heart disease, especially for women. Try meditation, yoga, or simply being silent and still for 10 minutes a day.
  11. See your doctor regularly. Regular medical check-ups are one of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.

-Sharon Mattioli, APRN

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