February is American Heart Month! "Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack." "Heart Disease." CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/index.htm. Accessed 01/25/2021.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve heart health!
1. Risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage the heart and blood vessels. Regular health screenings are very important and are a preventative measure you can use to lower your risk.
2. A heart-healthy diet is important! An example of heart-healthy eating is the Mediterranean diet which includes vegetables, fruits, beans, low fat or fat-free dairy foods, lean meats and fish, whole grains, and healthy fats such as olive oil. Limiting sugar, salt, saturated fat, processed foods, and alcohol is also preventative.
2. Get active! Exercise and regular physical activity are important, it reduces the chances of developing a condition such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other diseases. Walking, hiking, biking, and swimming are just some of the ways you can get and stay active.
4. Controlling your weight also reduces the risk of developing some of the conditions mentioned above. Your diet and exercise both play a part in maintaining a healthy weight.
5. According to the CDC (2008) smoking accounted for 33% of deaths from CVD. Speak to your medical provider to find out more about how to quit smoking.
6. Stress and sleep are both factors in heart health. Find healthy ways to manage stress such as physical activity, exercise, and meditation to help cope with stress. Getting the right amount of sleep decreases the risk of developing conditions that can lead to heart disease.
Although cardiovascular disease is prevalent it is also preventable. By following some of the tips above you are engaging in preventative measures that can lead to a healthier heart and lifestyle.