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February is American Heart Month: Heart Healthy Guidelines

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February is American Heart Month. Heart disease (cardiovascular disease) remains the number 1 cause of death for both men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease costs the United States over $300 billion dollars annually, with respect to health care services, medications and lost productivity. Despite these staggering numbers, Americans can positively impact their own heart health and reduce their risk of disease.

A healthy diet, with whole grains, fresh fruit, limited alcohol and caffeine can all impact good health. Additionally, stress reduction, physical activity, and proper sleep will further improve one’s overall well-being. Compliance with current medication (for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol) ensure the healthiest state possible. Finally, smoking cessation reduces the overall risk of heart disease.

Routine physical activity- the current recommendation is 150 minutes per week- lower blood pressure and improves overall health. Simple behavioral changes (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing housework, parking your car farther from the entrance of a building) are all ways to increase your daily activity.

Finally, preventive health care provides a great avenue to improve one’s overall health and reduce the risk of illness and disease. Annual medical exams, free health screenings, health lectures, and even heart smart cooking demonstrations are all easy, cost effective ways to maximize good health.

For more information on heart health issues, and suggestion, visit the American Heart Association and connect with your local chapter to see what options are available for you and your family.

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