February is Heart Month sponsored by the American Heart Association. This month is meant to educate all of us on what we can do to live heart-healthy lives. Here is the bad news: heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. But the good news is this: there are steps we can take to prevent heart disease. Here is the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 for keeping your heart healthy:
PLEASE READ ON…THIS LIST CAN BE LIFE-SAVING!
1. Get Active~ 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week can reduce your risk of heart disease. Aerobic exercise for your heart includes walking, jogging, swimming and biking. Pick something you like and do it regularly.
2. Control Cholesterol~ Your first step is to know your number. It’s best to keep total blood cholesterol levels less than 200 (mg/dl).
3. Eat Better~ Heart healthy eating starts with nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and low-fat dairy products. (this list echoes Myplate2yours and since you are already following this blog, you are well on your way!). Eating fish twice a week and choosing and preparing foods with little or no salt are your next steps to heart-smart eating. You will find lots of flavor in the heart healthy recipes on this site…here are a few of my favorites: Baked Salmon with Sweet Lemon Relish, Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Black Beans and Corn, Three Grain Granola and Savory Chicken, Vegetable and Navy Bean Stew.
4. Manage Blood Pressure~ About one in three adults have high blood pressure. If high blood pressure is left uncontrolled, it can injure and kill. It’s important to know your blood pressure and to control it if it’s high. (Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80 mm Hg).
5. Lose Weight~ Unfortunately, about two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight. It’s important for all of us to balance healthy eating (caloric intake) with our energy expenditure and physical activity.
6. Reduce Blood Sugar~ Diabetes is a major controllable risk factor for heart disease. If you have diabetes, it is essential to manage your blood sugar with good eating habits, weight control, exercise and, if needed, medication.
7. Stop Smoking~ Smoking has extensive adverse effects on your entire cardiovascular system. And when smoking is combined with other risk factors (obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes), it further increases your risk from these factors, as well. If you need support to help you quit smoking, please look for progams offered at local hospitals.
Visit American Heart Association’s My Life Check to see where you stand with Life’s Simple 7. You will get a personal heart score and a custom plan to help you live better. It’s simple and will make your heart happy!
Happy Heart Month!