Take Care of Your Ticker: February is American Heart Month!

According to Healthline, “heart disease is responsible for the most deaths worldwide for both men and women of all races,” and the American Heart Association (AHA) approximates that every 40 seconds an American will have a heart attack. But heart disease can be prevented with small lifestyle shifts.

Often the most simplistic ideas pack the biggest punch. Take care of your ticker in 2020 with these three simple lifestyle changes:

Eat a healthy diet.

An overall healthy diet can be your key to preventing damage to your cardiovascular health. The AHA recommends eating a diet that emphasizes…

  • a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • whole grains
  • low-fat dairy products
  • skinless poultry and fish
  • nuts and legumes
  • non-tropical vegetable oils

The AHA also recommends limiting saturated fat, trans fat, sodium, red meat, sweets, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

DID YOU KNOW? Check for the American Heart Associations heart-check mark to spot heart-healthy foods that meet the American Heart Association’s criteria for fat and cholesterol.

NOTE: Talk with your primary care physician before making any major changes to your diet or exercise routines.

Don’t smoke.

You’ve heard it a thousand times. Smoking is unhealthy.

According to Go Red for Women by the American Heart Association, smoking increases the risk of heart disease and stroke by two to four times. Smoking can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, damage your blood vessels, lowers your tolerance for physical activity, and decreases your HDL (good) cholesterol.

In just three years after you quit smoking, your risk of heart attack as decreased to that of a nonsmoker.

DID YOU KNOW? Many health insurance plans offer smoking cessation programs.

Manage your stress.

According to MedlinePlus, stress can raise your blood pressure and extreme stress can be a “trigger” for a heart attack. Common coping mechanisms for managing stress are also typically bad for your heart, including overeating, heavy drinking, and smoking. If you are currently dealing with a lot of stress, consider healthier coping mechanisms such as meditation, exercise, journaling, etc.

Resources

Heart Disease: Facts, Statistics, and You (Healthline)

The American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations (American Heart Association)

Prevent Heart Disease (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults and Kids (American Heart Association)

Smoking and Heart Disease (Go Red for Women)

What Happens When You Quit Smoking? (Healthline)

How to Prevent Heart Disease (MedlinePlus)

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