American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month.  Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men and women? During this month, Americans are encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyles that can help prevent heart disease.

There are many ways to live a heart healthy lifestyle.  Here are a few steps you can take today to lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack:

Eat Heart Healthy Foods

Focus on eating certain foods like fruits and vegetables while limiting foods that are high in sodium, contain saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and alcohol.  It is important to read labels to know which foods are heart-healthy and which are not.  Here are some examples of foods you should incorporate into your diet:

  • Leafy green vegetables, carrots, broccoli
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Fat free or low-fat dairy products
  • Lean mean, skinless poultry, and fish
  • Nuts, seeds, and legumes
  • Non tropical oils

You can make your favorite foods more heart healthy by using alternative ingredients.  Here are plenty of recipes from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that both taste good and reduce your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

Manage Stress

Stress is a common occurrence that triggers heart attacks or other heart problems.  These high emotion events can contribute to a higher blood pressure which is a big risk factor for heart disease.  It is important to manage your stress in healthy ways such as:

  • Talking to a professional counselor
  • Meditating
  • Exercising
  • Talking to your support system such as friends or family

It is also common to try some relaxation techniques such as breathing and mental exercises.  These are easy tricks that you can do anywhere when feeling overly stressed.

Exercise Regularly

The American Heart Association suggests that you have at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.  Exercising can be as simple as going for a walk or run, yoga, or going to the gym.  By exercising you not only stay physically fit, but you are able to reduce stress levels and reduce the risk of heart disease as well as other conditions.

Get a Good Night’s Rest

Adults should be getting an average of 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  It is important to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night, so your body is able to maintain your physical health as well as your brain function.  The lack of good sleep can increase your risk for heart disease and other chronic health problems.  Technology has been shown to affect normal sleep patterns.  Here are some technology tips to get a better night’s sleep:

  • Charge phone away from your bed
  • Dim the brightness on your phone
  • Set time limits for some apps
  • Put it on do not disturb

Quit Smoking and Vaping

Smoking not only increases your risk of heart disease and heart attacks, but other life-threatening conditions.  Quitting is difficult but there are so many resources that can ease the process.  Make a Quit Day Plan and stick with it!

 

If you would like to learn more about living a heart healthy life style visit the American Heart Association website and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website for additional tips and resources!