American Heart Month isn’t just for celebrating love. February also reminds us to take care of our heart and consider our risk factors. Believe it or not, heart disease can happen at any age. Some risk factors for heart disease and stroke are preventable. American Heart Month teaches us the ways we can help reduce our risks while eliminating those we have control over. Do you have one of these risk factors for cardiovascular disease? Obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes.
Preventing Heart Disease
Now is the time to learn more about the risks and how to prevent heart disease and stroke. Here are a few signs the CDC (Center for Disease Control) says you may be at risk for heart disease if you have:
High blood pressure.
There are millions of people in the United States who have high blood pressure, and millions of them are as young as in their 40s and 50s. If you are one of them, make sure to have it under control.
High cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity
These are all conditions that can increase your risk for heart disease. If you fall into this category, work on eating healthy and getting some physical activity in a few times a week, at minimum.
Over 35 million adults in America are smokers and thousands of young people are picking up the habit daily. If you’re a smoker, do your best to quit or cut down. It’s what’s best for your health.
So, if you want to stay on top of your health and try to avoid the risk of heart disease, there are a few things you can do. Don’t smoke, and if you’re already a smoker, do your best to quit. Seek out resources to help quit. Reach out to the local health department for smoking cessation programs and resources.
The next step you can take is managing any conditions you may have such as high blood pressure and cholesterol. Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor. Next, make heart-healthy diet decisions. Eat whole foods that are low in trans-fat, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar. A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Finally, get moving! Living a sedentary lifestyle will put you at a much greater risk for heart disease. Try to get in at least 20 minutes of physical activity, 4-5 days a week, then build from there.
For additional information and resources on preventing heart disease go to https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/american_heart_month.htm