February is American Heart Month, which means we’re focusing on our heart health and how we can adjust our habits for heart-healthy living.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “about 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.” Which of these five factors do you incorporate into your life currently to keep your ticker healthy?
Understand Your Risk Factors
Your risk of heart disease is dependent on a number of factors including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, being overweight or obese, diabetes, smoking, lack of physical activity, family history, etc. These risk factors will vary from person to person.
To learn about your factors, visit your primary care physician for a thorough check up and risk assessment. Your relationship with your doctor is your most important weapon for preventing heart disease.
Did You Know? Preventive services are often covered by most health plans when delivered by a doctor or other provider in your plan’s network.
Manage Stress in Your Life
According to the American Heart Association, “stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can pose a risk for heart attack and stroke.” Managing your stress levels can improve your physical and mental health.
If you struggle with stress in your day-to-day life, consider adding any of these habits into your daily routine:
- Speak with a therapist or licensed counselor
- Practice daily meditation—even 10 minutes a day will make a difference!
- Add some physical activity to your day
- Find a support system of family, friends, neighbors, etc.
Eat Those Veggies!
We all love fries and pizza, but they aren’t very good for your cardiovascular health. A healthy diet plays a large role in the prevention of heart disease.
Try swapping that steak for salmon, or try a bowl of delicious oatmeal instead of that sugary breakfast cereal. In addition, the Mayo Clinic recommends watching your portion sizes, eating more vegetables and fruits, selecting whole grains, limiting unhealthy fats, choosing low-fat protein choices, reducing the sodium content in your food, planning ahead by meal prepping, and occasionally indulging in treats.
Lift Heavy Things and Put them Down, AKA Exercise
Even modest amounts of physical activity is advantageous for your health, but the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults get at least:
- 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (for example, 30 minutes 5 days a week), or
- 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (for example, 25 minutes 3 days a week), or
- A combination of both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity.
Get Quality Sleep
Getting quality sleep is more important than you might think, not just for your cardiovascular health, but for your health overall. Sleeping helps repair your heart and blood vessels while maintaining hormonal balances, supporting healthy development, and supporting a healthy immune system.
Please consult with your doctor for medical advice. This is only informational and is not intended to replace medical advice from your health care provider.
Heart Disease Facts (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Heart-Healthy Living (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
7 Strategies to Live a Heart-Healthy Lifestyle (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Lifestyle Changes for Heart Attack Prevention (American Heart Association, Inc.)
Chronic Stress Can Cause Heart Trouble (American Heart Association, Inc.)
Heart-Healthy Diet: 8 Steps to Prevent Heart Disease (Mayo Clinic)