Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year—that’s 1 out of every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
February is American Heart month, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has some great advice for anyone looking to help his/her heart get or stay healthy.
Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least 5 servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol but high in fiber, as well as limiting salt or sodium in your diet can be helpful.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of heart disease.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
Monitor blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office.
Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible.
Limit alcohol. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.
Check your cholesterol. Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years.
Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Some of these suggestions can mean some pretty radical lifestyle changes. The CDC has some advice for that as well:
- Don’t become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart.
- Don’t go it alone. The journey is more fun when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.
- Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep and do what you can tomorrow.
- Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some colleagues for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.
The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions, the most common type of which is coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease). This occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease can cause heart attack, angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias. These conditions are also the leading cause of disability in the United States and prevent many folks from working and enjoying family activities. But there is good news; it’s preventable and controllable, and the tips offered by the CDC are a really good place to start.
Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer
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