Heart Exam

It’s Time to Check on Your Heart

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, maybe hearts have been on your mind. And while it’s fun to celebrate with candy hearts, your real heart deserves a moment too. 

February is American Heart Month, aimed at increasing awareness of heart health. According to the CDC, someone suffers a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States. Heart disease is a serious issue and accounted for 1 in 5 deaths in 2020. Luckily, overall cases are on the decline. This month, make sure you’re giving your heart the love it deserves.

Tick the Right Boxes

Heart disease is, to an extent, genetic. It can be passed from one generation to another. However, by building healthy habits, you can lower your risk. The steps below will not only improve your overall health but keep your heart in tip-top shape:

  • Eat healthy — Reduce your intake of processed foods like lunchmeat, chips, candy, and fast food. Make your meals colorful with lots of leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy.
  • Start moving — You don’t have to run a marathon. Just move about 30 minutes a day. Take a brisk walk after dinner or first thing in the morning. It’s important to get your heart rate up for a total of 150 minutes a week.
  • Control cholesterol and blood pressure — More exercise, more fiber in your diet, less red meat, and less dairy will all contribute to lowering your cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Decreasing salt also helps.
  • Don’t drink excessively — It can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart failure, or stroke. Excessive drinking can also lead to obesity which is a contributing factor in heart-related diseases.
  • Reduce stress — Prolonged stress can cause long-term damage to health including cardiovascular disease. Try to remove or reduce stressors in your life.

Other Risk Factors

Ignoring the tips above can lead to a higher risk of developing heart disease. There are some other factors outside your control like family history. You’re also at higher risk if:

  • You’re a woman over 55
  • You’re a man over 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before 65

Jump Start a Healthy Heart

There is so much you can do to take care of your heart that it may be a little overwhelming. AltaMed is here to help get you on a path to healthy living and keep you there.

Our Healthy Heart Program encourages participants to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Each week, we’ll focus on topics likes stress management, exercise, nutrition, and medication compliance. The program maintains a positive, support group-type environment. Participants work together and motivate each other to succeed.

It is recommended for people who want to achieve healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Call (323) 558-7606 to enroll.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Blood Pressure

Heart-Healthy Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

If you’re like many Americans – about 100 million, or almost half of all adults, according to the American Heart Association – you have high blood pressure. It basically means that your heart has to work too hard to pump blood throughout your body.

Over time, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney problems, and even dementia.

If high blood pressure sounds serious, it is, especially if it’s left to rise. However, finding out if you have it is easy: when you see a doctor, one of the first things they do is check your blood pressure with that inflatable cuff known as a sphygmomanometer.

Categories of Blood Pressure

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reduce your blood pressure and improve your heart health.

Exercise Regularly

Woman Practicing Spinning

Engaging in at least 30 minutes of cardio exercise a day is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure. Don’t worry about joining a gym: taking a walk, hike, or bike ride outdoors is a great way to get cardio. Every bit helps

Stop Smoking

Stop Smoking

Smoking, using chew or dip, vaping, or any tobacco or nicotine consumption immediately raises your blood pressure. Many of these substances contain chemicals that damage your heart (and many other parts of your body).

Cut Back on Your Drinking

Glasses and Cups With Alcoholic Beverages

Many people who enjoy a drink or two say that it helps them feel less stressed. You’ve also probably read that having a glass of wine is good for your heart. Unfortunately, there’s no hard scientific evidence that shows that any alcoholic beverage can actually lower your blood pressure. If you drink, do so in moderation: no more than one drink a day for women, or two for men.

Use Less Salt

Salt Shaker

Cutting the amount of salt you add to your food is a step in the right direction. But even if you stop adding it to your meals, you may still be getting an unhealthy amount of salt. These tips can help you sweep out the sodium.

  • Read food labels. The ingredient you want to look at it sodium. You will be shocked to learn how much is in foods that aren’t very salty, like bread, sauces, ketchup, and even breakfast cereal. Look for low-sodium alternatives.
  • Cut back on processed food. Food naturally doesn’t have much sodium, but when food is processed with additives, sodium is added. Lunch meats, canned soups, snack foods like chips and crackers, and pasta meals (like mac and cheese in a box or canned spaghetti) are among the highest in sodium.
  • You don’t have to do it all at once. Cut back gradually – if you find your food’s too bland, try adding some spices and seasonings to shake up your taste buds. Eventually, you’ll find that many foods are too salty for you, and you’ll crave them less.

Watch Your Weight – and Your Waist

Man Looking at Donuts

There’s a direct link between weight and blood pressure: according to the National Institutes of Health, when your body weight increases, your blood pressure rises. If you’re overweight or obese, even dropping a small amount of weight can reduce your blood pressure.

If you carry your extra weight in your stomach (if you’re apple-shaped rather than pear-shaped), you may be 22% more likely to have high blood pressure. The diet and exercise tips above can help you reduce your weight and your waistline but ask your doctor about realistic goals based on your health history.

Drink Fewer Caffeinated Beverages

Coffee Grains

Even though caffeine has some health benefits, not everyone can tolerate it. For many people, a cup of coffee or a soda may be enough to spike their blood pressure. If you’re looking to stay hydrated, consider some of these healthy beverages.

Keep Your Stress Down

Color Notes Sticked to the Wall

Science still isn’t 100% sure of why stress and high blood pressure are linked; it could be that when people are stressed, they eat unhealthy foods and drink more. If you have high blood pressure, learning how to control your stress may help lower it, cut your risks for other conditions, as well as helping you reduce your number of headaches, colds, and sleepless nights.

Think You Have High Blood Pressure? Call Us

Senior at Hospital

For those who do have high blood pressure, regular checkups can ensure it’s in an acceptable range and then take action if it’s not. Some people may need medication to control their blood pressure but making healthy lifestyle changes should always be the first course of action. Call us to schedule an appointment and get personalized recommendations that can help your heart grow healthy.

Hand Holding Apple

Follow Your Heart to Better Health

Heart disease is a serious condition that affects both men and women of all ethnicities and can cause heart attacks and stroke. The good news is, there are some things you can do to protect your heart!

  • Make heart-healthy choices every day. Choose healthy foods that support a balanced diet and exercise as often as possible.
  • Learn your family’s health history. This allows doctors to make better assessments and recommendations about your health.
  • Schedule regular checkups with your primary care provider. Your doctor can help identify any health issues, as well as help you identify things you can do to stay healthy.

Call us at (888) 499-9303 so we can help you be happy and healthy for many years to come!

It’s Time to Check on Your Heart