February is American Heart Month!
Designated by the President of the United States in an effort to raise awareness of vascular fitness, February has been designated American Heart Month by the President of the United States in an effort to raise awareness of heart health and vascular fitness. In honor of American Health Month, we would like to share seven proven tips for keeping your heart healthy.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for individuals in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable. Heart disease is a silent killer. Making heart-healthy choices, knowing your family’s medical history and understanding the risk factors for heart disease, having regular physical exams and working with your doctor to manage your health are all important steps in saving lives.
The American Heart Association offers the following guidelines for keeping your heart healthy!
1. Adopt an Active Lifestyle.
Adopting an active lifestyle is essential for maintaining a healthy heart. Physical activity helps lower blood pressure, reduces the risk of heart disease, and improves overall cardiovascular health. Regular exercise can also improve cholesterol levels, boost cardiovascular endurance, and promote weight loss. Engaging in physical activity also releases endorphins, which can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve mood. Whether it’s going for a brisk walk, cycling, running, swimming, or playing a sport, the key is to find an activity you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week for the best results. By adopting an active lifestyle, you can help keep your heart strong and healthy for many years to come.
2. Monitor & Control Your Cholesterol
Monitoring and controlling your cholesterol levels is important for maintaining a healthy heart. High cholesterol levels can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. To keep your cholesterol in check, it’s important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet low in saturated and trans fats, regular physical activity, and avoiding smoking. Your doctor can also monitor your cholesterol levels through regular blood tests and prescribe medication if necessary. It’s also important to understand your cholesterol numbers, including total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides, to determine the best course of action for managing your cholesterol levels. By monitoring and controlling your cholesterol, you can reduce your risk of heart disease and maintain a healthy heart for years to come.
3. Watch Your Diet
Watching your diet is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy heart. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help lower cholesterol levels, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s important to limit the consumption of saturated and trans fats, which can increase cholesterol levels and harm heart health. Instead, opt for foods that are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as nuts, seeds, and fatty fish, as these types of fats have been shown to have a positive impact on heart health. Additionally, reducing your intake of salt can help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. By paying attention to your diet and making heart-healthy food choices, you can help maintain a healthy heart and reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.
4. Manage blood pressure
Managing blood pressure is essential for a healthy heart. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a leading risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. To manage blood pressure, it’s important to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, a balanced diet low in salt and rich in fruits and vegetables, and avoiding smoking. In some cases, medication may also be necessary to manage blood pressure. Regular check-ups with a doctor and monitoring your blood pressure at home can help you keep track of your numbers and ensure they are within a healthy range. By managing blood pressure, you can reduce the risk of heart disease and maintain a healthy heart for years to come.
5. Lose weight
Weight loss can be an effective way to improve heart health. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular problems. By losing weight, you can lower your cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and improve cardiovascular health. To achieve and maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to adopt a lifestyle that includes regular physical activity and a balanced diet low in calories and rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Gradual, steady weight loss is recommended, as rapid weight loss can be harmful to your health. Consulting with a doctor or a registered dietitian can help you determine a safe and effective weight loss plan. By making lifestyle changes to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, you can significantly improve your heart health and reduce your risk of cardiovascular problems.
6. Lower Your Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, as referred to as glucose, is generated by food and used for the body’s energy. But a high blood sugar level could mean diabetes or prediabetes. Diabetes can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. To be in the healthy range, your fasting blood sugar level should be below 100. To reduce blood sugar, decrease consumption of added sugars, which can be found in sugar-sweetened beverages, candy and desserts.
7. Do Not Smoke.
Smoking causes damage throughout your circulatory system. It can lead to hardened arteries; reduced “good cholesterol,” known as HDL; and it can diminish lung capacity, making it more difficult to engage in physical activity. Smoking increases your risk of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes and cancer.