Love Your Heart
February 25, 2015
You may be treating your sweetheart this February, but don’t forget it’s also American Heart Month — the perfect time to give your own heart some extra love.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America. But the good news is many of these deaths and risk factors are preventable.
While age, gender and family history cannot be controlled, you can help prevent and control high cholesterol, high blood pressure, excess weight and obesity with lifestyle changes, physical activity and healthful eating.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think! Remember, it’s the overall pattern of your choices that counts.
Prevention: What You Can Do
- Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eating foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high blood cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet can also lower your blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for 2 hours and 30 minutes every week.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which causes high blood pressure.
- Have your cholesterol checked.
- Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis.
Genie Chargois, LVN, CCHW
UBI Caritas Community Health Education