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American Heart Month

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing 1 in 4 deaths per year.

February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing 1 in 4 deaths per year. Research shows that stress can increase the likelihood of heart disease and having a heart attack. Risk factors such as high blood pressure increase your overall risk of developing heart disease. Taking time to care for your heart can be challenging as you go about daily life. But it’s easier than you think to show your heart the love it deserves each day. Small acts of self-care. Taking walks, getting quality sleep, and cooking healthy meals, help your heart. 

Consider making one, or several, of the below lifestyle changes. Here’s how to start: 

  1.  Move more 
    • Get at least 2½ hours of physical activity each week—that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. 
    • Can’t carve out a lot of time in your day? Don’t chuck your goal, chunk it! Try 5, 10, or 15 minutes a few times a day. Some physical activity is better than none. 
  1. Eat healthy foods 
    • A healthy diet that is low in sodium and saturated fat is key to heart disease prevention. 
    • Such as eating vegetables, fruits, whole grains, vegetable oils, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. 
    • Limiting food sugar and other sweeteners. 
  1.  Aim for a healthy weight 
    • Being overweight is hard on your heart. It increases your risk of having heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. 
    • Choosing heart-healthy foods and getting regular exercise will help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. 
  1.  Quit smoking 
    • The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your heart and blood vessels in many ways. 
    • Quitting is hard, but many people have succeeded, and you can too. Ask your family and friends for support in your effort 
  1. Reduce stress and improve sleep 
    • Stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other heart risks. 
    • Not getting enough sleep or regularly getting poor-quality sleep increases the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical conditions. Aim for 7–8 hours of sleep a night. 
  1. Know your numbers 
    • Meet your heart health goals by keeping track of how much you exercise, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol numbers—all of which can impact your heart health—and tell your doctor how you’re doing. 

By: Leslie Batty, FNP