Take a minute today and say thank you to your heart. That friendly fellow has been beating nonstop for millions of beats over your lifetime. In fact, by around the time you are 30, your heart has already pumped 1 billion times! Amazing right?
Our hearts work tirelessly everyday and the month of February is heart health month all around our country. This month here at WVMC, we are focusing our efforts on educating our patients and their families about the importance of hearth health. Here are some strategies that the CDC recommends to help improve your overall heart health.
Eat a healthy diet. This is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your heart health. Study after study confirms that eating a healthy diet is the single biggest factor to promoting overall heart health. Aim to eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber. You also want to try to limit your fat, especially saturated fats, and cholesterol intake.
Exercise regularly. Even if it’s just walking, the idea is to get moving at least 5 times a week. Exercise is good good good for you!!! It makes your heart stronger and helps you lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk for heart attacks!
Monitor your blood pressure. Everyone can benefit from regular monitoring of their blood pressure, as well as a basic understanding of what high blood pressure does to your body. High blood pressure can damage your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and more. Therefore, it’s critically important to monitor your blood pressure to make sure you are within a safe range, and if you begin to develop high blood pressure, seek the help of your health care team.
Work with your health care team. You’ve got to get regular check ups, annual physicals, and communicate to your health care providers when you have questions. This seems like a no brainer, but far too many people wait until the damage is done before ever speaking up or involving their health care team. Be proactive and take steps to work with your health care providers and begin to employ some of these strategies so you can live a long and healthy life.
Get your cholesterol checked. Most people with high cholesterol have it because they ingest too much cholesterol from animal sources. Our bodies naturally make the right amount of cholesterol for our needs, but when we have a poor diet and consume excess cholesterol we make it harder on our heart and arteries. Also some people are genetically predisposed to higher cholesterol levels. The key is finding out where you are right now and talking with your health care team about how to get to a safe range if you are high, or stay in the safe range if you already there.
Don’t smoke. It’s really bad for your heart and vascular system. Most people think that the main risk associated with smoking is lung cancer, but the truth is, you’re at great risk to develop coronary artery disease (CAD) and peripheral vascular disease (PVD) if you are a smoker. Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for the future health of your heart.
Other CDC recommendations include maintaining a healthy weight, limiting your alcohol use, managing your diabetes, and taking all of your prescribed medications as directed. So during this month of February, give thanks to your heart and consider making some of these recommendations part of your daily routine.