This is a good time of the year to evaluate ways to prevent heart disease with lifestyle and dietary changes. Extension programs and other UF/IFAS resources can help. We teach classes on topics such as Keeping the Pressure Down, Let’s Walk Florida and Toward Permanent Weight Management.
Heart disease affects people of all genders, races, and ethnicities. Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. Even though it is one of the country’s most costly and chronic diseases, it is among the most preventable. During American Heart Month, unite and commit to fight this disease by engaging in better self-care, health, and wellness activities.
Be aware of the risk factors! Some heart disease risk factors are inherited (you can’t control them). However, many risk factors are based on the lifestyle choices we make.
Possible risk factors:
- Unhealthy Diet- Diets high in saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol can raise cholesterol levels. High-sodium diets can increase blood pressure.
- Diabetes- Increases your stroke risk and is often combined with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and obesity.
- High Cholesterol-Excess cholesterol may create blood clots.
- High Blood Pressure-https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure
- Obesity- A risk factor that may lead to stroke.
- Lack of Exercise or Physical Inactivity- A sedentary lifestyle increases your risk of other conditions that lead to stroke.
- Smoking and Exposure to Secondhand Smoke- May damage the cardiovascular system.
- Age and Family History of Heart Disease- Heart disease can happen at any age, but the risk goes up as you age.
Your cardiovascular health is important!
Heart disease prevention is about making wise lifestyle changes and sticking with them. Here are 9 ways to reduce your risk of heart disease:
- Exercise: Keep moving and incorporate some daily exercise into your routine. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of moderate exercise. Go for a walk in a local park and enjoy the exposure to nature. Join a walking program.
- Eat healthier: Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits & vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Limit fat intake and choose healthier fats. Limit excess sodium in your diet. Include whole grains which contain fiber. Avoid added sugars or foods high in sodium or saturated fats. Add heart healthy recipes to your menu plan. https://recipes.heart.org/
- Body weight: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke or quit if you do smoke. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol can raise your blood pressure.
- Stress: Manage your stress and anxiety level. Stress can raise blood pressure, or lead to poor lifestyle choices like an unhealthy diet, drinking too much, or smoking. Stress can bring on disease.
- Awareness: Monitor your blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol. Know your family medical history and share that information with your healthcare provider.
- Rest: Get adequate sleep each night. It is important.
- Annual check-ups: Make sure you schedule regular check-ups with your medical care provider to evaluate your bloodwork and physical status, as well as any changes in your health. Changes can happen without you knowing it, so it is a good idea to stay on top of your well-being.
Be the best you that you can be. Strive to be healthy for life.
Check out these resources:
5 reasons to start exercising- https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/06/22/five-reasons-to-start-exercising-today/
Eat the rainbow for good health- https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/03/01/follow-the-rainbow-for-good-health-during-nutrition-month/
Focus on self-care- https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2021/07/26/time-to-focus-on-self-care/
American Heart Association – https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/health-threats-from-high-blood-pressure
MyPlate Healthy Fruits: https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/fruits
MyPlate Vegetables: https://www.myplate.gov/eat-healthy/vegetables
Portion Control Matters- https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2023/01/13/portion-control-matters-portion-size-matters/
Stress management: Ways to Cope- https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FY517
Thoughts of the heart- https://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/browardco/2022/02/01/thoughts-of-the-heart/
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