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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.

Physical activity every day can greatly improve your overall health and make you feel better. It can reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.  This can be as simple as brisk walking, increasing your movement and activity, strength and resistance training.   Physicians recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical exercise each day.   Children need at least 60 minutes every day!

 

2. Monitor & Control Your Cholesterol

When you have too much “bad cholesterol,” known as LDL, it can lead to plaque building up in your veins and arteries. That can result in heart disease and stroke. Exercising and by avoiding or reducing consumption of animal products high in saturated fat, such as beef, pork, cream and butter can help you control your levels of LDL.  Eat foods that can help lower you cholesterol such as whole grains, fatty fish such as such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna; and fruits, vegetables and certain nuts such as walnuts and almonds.

3. Watch Your Diet

A healthy diet will keep you energized and also helps your body fight diseases. Fruits and vegetables are part of a nutritious food plan, as are low-fat and fat-free dairy items, whole grains, nuts, beans and legumes, fish, and lean meats. Try to reduce the consumption of sodium, saturated fats and added sugars.

4. Manage blood pressure

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can strain the heart, arteries and kidneys, and can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and other major health problems. The ideal blood pressure reading is no more than 120 for the top, or systolic, number and no more than 80 for the diastolic, or bottom, number.  A healthy diet and regular excercise will help you keep your blood pressure under control. You should also manage your stress, limit  alcohol and avoid smoking.  Some folks have a genetic

5. Lose weight

Reducing weight can reduce the risk for heart disease. Too much fat, especially at the waist, increases the risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. Calculating your BMI, or body mass index, helps determine if you should lose weight. It’s recommended that your BMI remain below 25. Even losing five to 10 pounds can reduce blood pressure.

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.

 

Source: American Heart Association