We can fill, warm, break, change and give our hearts, but perhaps the most important role of a heart to have is to be a healthy and it’s up to us to make sure it is. Heart disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States, with one in four deaths caused by heart disease. February is dedicated celebrating not only the metaphorical purpose of a heart, but also its physical purpose.
In honor of American Heart Month, AltaMed wants to make sure you’re aware that heart disease, which includes cardiac arrest and stroke, can be easily prevented. To make sure your heart is in the right place, you can start by making some healthy lifestyle choices, and by talking to your PCP about how to manage conditions that could put you at risk.
Here are a few quick and easy changes you can begin today!
Don’t Pass the Salt
- Choose fresh (e.g., fruits and veggies) over processed (e.g., frozen and canned) foods.
- Pay attention to nutrition labels and opt for items with a daily sodium value of 5 percent or less.
- Use spices like garlic or onion powder, chili or herbs instead of salt, to add flavor.
- Make physical activity a part of your daily life; obesity is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
- Start with 15 minutes of brisk walking at least 3 to 4 days a week.
- Work up to at least 2 ½ hours of exercise a week.
Know Your Numbers
- Maintain a healthy weight—losing just 10 pounds, if you are overweight, can lower your risk of heart disease.
- Drink alcohol in moderation: at most, one drink a day for women, two for men.
- Keep an eye on your cholesterol and blood pressure, and talk to your PCP about how to lower both.
Alter Your Patterns
- Switch to non- or low-fat dairy products.
- Opt for fish, chicken without skin, and lean cuts of beef or pork.
- Quit smoking. It’s the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the U.S.
It will take commitment and dedication to follow through on these changes, but the benefits far outweigh any costs. Get your family involved to help you stay motivated, and watch as everyone’s health improves. Also, be sure to wear red not just on Valentine’s Day, but also on February 3, as part of National Wear Red Day, which aims to raise awareness in women about the importance of heart health.