February is American Heart Month, an important time to think about your heart’s health and learn more about how to get, and stay, heart-healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of the U.S. population has at least one key risk factor for heart disease, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. Despite this alarming statistic, there are a number of steps you can take to reduce your risk and improve your heart health. Here are some quick tips to keep your most vital organ healthy.
See your doctor for a check-up – It’s important to get regular check-ups to help identify any conditions that could potentially lead to heart issues, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol. By identifying these issues early, it is possible to manage them effectively and avoid more complicated problems later on.
Talk to your doctor about the best way to stay heart-healthy based on your personal and family health history. Having a family history of heart disease (especially having a parent or sibling with it) puts you at risk.
Strive for a healthy weight. Be sure to include a regular exercise routine combined with good nutritional habits to help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Be physically active every day. Adopt the motto “move more, sit less.”
Choose nutrient-rich foods. Eat more fiber-rich foods, whole grains, fruits, veggies, and lean proteins. Eat fewer fatty, salty, sugary foods and red meat. Limit alcohol, too!
Control your medical conditions. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions for adhering to regular check-ups and taking any medications.
Address your stress with relaxing activities. Long-term stress bumps up your heart rate and blood pressure, which can damage artery walls.
If you vape or use tobacco, quit–and avoid secondhand smoke, too! Nonsmokers are up to 30 percent more likely to develop heart disease from secondhand smoke exposure at home or work.
Don’t ignore snoring. One in five adults has at least mild sleep apnea, a condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep. If not properly treated, sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
While these tips are important to improving your heart health and reducing your risk of developing heart disease, they can also help improve your overall health. By taking one step at a time, you can make great strides toward preventing heart disease.