American Heart Month: 7 Habits to Keep Your Heart Healthy
February is American Heart Month and a great time to recommit to making the diet and lifestyle choices needed to keep your heart healthy and strong! Join us throughout the month for articles and insights.
As we mentioned in our previous article: heart disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the United States. This February, show your heart some love by assessing your heart health, lifestyle, and potential risk to lead a heart-healthy life moving forward. The health of your heart is extremely important to keeping your body happy and functioning.
It’s all too easy to neglect your cardiovascular health. Luckily, there are several ways you can take right now to support your heart and circulatory system. Prevention is key to keeping your heart in top shape and beating the way it should be. Here are some tips on how to prevent any potential cardiovascular conditions and diseases:
- Get active
When it comes to cardiovascular health, exercise is crucial. Exercise not only prevents cardiovascular disease, but it can also boost your overall mental and physical health. The American Heart Association recommends around 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. These sessions can be broken up to five 30-minute moderate exercise sessions each week. Walking, jogging, biking, and swimming are all great forms of exercise.
- Eat a heart healthy diet
Modifying your diet to include foods rich in fiber (such as whole grains), fruits and vegetables, oily fish, nuts, legumes, and seeds may help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. You’ll want to shy want away from foods high in sodium or those that contain trans fats.
- Quit smoking
Quitting smoking is the best thing that can be done for the heart and for overall health. Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of the preventable disease and death in the U.S. When combined with other heart disease risk factors, smoking increases the risks associated with those factors. Quitting is never easy, but there are lots of helpful resources for those looking to start.
- Get regular health screenings
High blood pressure and high cholesterol can damage the heart and blood vessels, but without testing for them, you probably won’t know whether you have these conditions. Regular screening can tell you what your numbers are. It’s important to get regular health screenings for the following:
- Blood pressure
Regular blood pressure screenings usually start in childhood. If you’re between 18 and 39 and have risk factors for high blood pressure, you’ll likely be screened once a year. People age 40 and older also are given a blood pressure test annually.
- Cholesterol levels
Adults generally have their cholesterol measured at least once every 4-6 years. Cholesterol screening usually starts at age 20 though earlier testing may be recommended, if you have other risk factors, such as family history of early-onset heart disease.
- Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes is a risk factor for heart disease. If you have risk factors for diabetes, such as being overweight or having a family history of diabetes, your health care provider may recommend early screening.
- Blood pressure
- Manage stress
Stress increases cortisol and isn’t healthy, which leads to weight gain, a key risk factor for heart disease. We recommend in partaking in your favorite stress-busting activity such as: reading a book, playing a sport, making art, playing with pets, listening to music, or practicing yoga.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight—especially around the middle of the body—increases the risk of heart disease. Excess weight can lead to conditions that can increase the chances of developing heart disease—including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.
- Sleep more
Sleeping restores the body, helps decrease the stress and increase overall happiness. Your heart is significantly impacted when your body doesn’t get enough sleep. Just as your body needs rest, so does your heart. Most people need six to eight hours of sleep each day.
Little changes today can result in big benefits over time and it is no secret that new habits can take some time and effort to make stick. If you’re struggling with changing your habits or are at risk for a heart disease, our caregivers can help guide you towards better heart health. The quality of the relationship between a caregiver and care receiver can impact health outcomes of the elderly and those who require long term care. Contact us to find out how we can help.
Check back next week for a caregiver’s guide caring for those with heart conditions, part of our American Heart Month series.
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