Strategies for a heart-healthy lifestyle
American Heart Month in February is the perfect time to commit to a heart-healthy lifestyle. When you choose healthy behaviors, you can lower your heart disease risk while also preventing other serious chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. Here are seven simple strategies that your heart will love.
Know the risks
High blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. Other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can put people at a higher risk for heart disease include diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use. Consider your risk factors, learn your family history of heart disease and talk with your doctor about changes you can make to improve your health.
Make healthy food choices. Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and low-fat dairy products. Eat foods with low salt, saturated fat and added sugar.
Move more, sit less
Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Take a brisk walk for 10-15 minutes twice a day. In addition, aim for muscle-strengthening activities at least two days a week. Consider arm curls with bottles of water while watching TV or doing household chores.
If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, it’s never too late to quit. Make a plan to quit. Take the first step and call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for free support.
Take your meds
If you take medicine to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. Never stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Rethink your drink
Substitute water for sugary drinks to reduce calories. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Monitor blood pressure
If left uncontrolled, high blood pressure can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, and cognitive decline later in life. Self-measured blood pressure monitors are easy and safe to use at home for regular monitoring. Your doctor can show you how to use one if you need help.
Learn more at cdc.gov/Heartdisease/prevention.htm or cdc.gov/HeartMonth.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention