Take Care of Your Heart this February

Stethoscope with white hearts to represent National Heart Month

It’s time to take care of your heart. February is National Heart Month and many people may not know that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

A Quick Overview of Heart Health:

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 800,000 people die of cardiovascular disease each year in the United States. The good news is that cardiovascular disease is preventable, so it’s important to take measures to protect your heart health.

The American Heart Association says that you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease if you have any of the following risk factors:

  • Hypertension or high cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes or prediabetes
  • History of smoking
  • Limited physical activity
  • Poor eating habits
  • Older age
  • A family history of heart disease

This February, challenge yourself to improve your heart health. A few simple changes can reduce your risk and give your overall health a boost. Although you can’t change all your risk factors, there are several you can change. Focus on those. You owe it to yourself!

Steps to Improve Your Health Health

Change Your Diet

Evaluate your diet. Is it full of processed foods, high-fat foods, or foods high in sodium? Your diet can contribute to your risk of developing heart disease. It recommended to follow a low-fat diet that is lower in sugar and sodium.

The best eating plan is one that is filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Try to limit your consumption of fast food, fatty meats and snack foods. Small changes can add up and make a big impact! Swap your chips for an apple. Instead of French fries, choose a salad every once in a while.

Get Moving

Physical activity is important for heart health. Small amounts can add up, but the American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. That number can seem overwhelming, but you can break that down into 20-30 minutes a day. That’s not so bad! Small bouts of exercise through the day and week add up.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

People with obesity have an increased risk of developing heart disease. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce this risk. Start by balancing your food intake with healthy levels of physical activity.

Rest and Relax

Sleep and relaxation also play important roles in heart health. You should aim to sleep at least seven hours each night, if possible. Consider relaxation techniques to reduce stress such as meditation and deep breathing exercises.

Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption

Tobacco use increases the risk of developing heart disease. Too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure as well as your triglyceride levels. Ideally, men should have no more than two drinks per day and women no more than one drink per day.

Take time for YOU and love yourself this month!

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