February is heart month. The following list of strategies is aimed at improving your current heart health. Simple behavior changes can improve your overall health and wellbeing.
- Tobacco cessation. Tobacco can cause narrowing of arteries, increasing the risk of a heart attack.
- Eat a heart healthy diet. Enjoy a daily diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables, and limit your intake of fat and sodium. These simple changes in your diet can help lower blood pressure and heart disease.
- Maintain a healthy weight. By doing so, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, as well as some types of cancer.
- Floss daily. Inflammation of the gum line can also lead to arterial inflammation and introduce bacteria into your bloodstream.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Studies have shown a good night’s sleep-approximately 7-7.5 hours a night- can reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Reduce stress. Stress can increase the production of hormones that raise blood pressure and elevate blood sugar levels.
- Medication compliance. The importance of taking your medication, as prescribed, is paramount. If you are having problems with your medication, discuss the situation with your doctor. Stopping medication on your own can increase your risk of high blood pressure and elevated blood sugars, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Limit alcohol intake. Women should limit daily alcohol to one drink; men should limit themselves to two drinks daily. Excessive alcohol intake can interfere with prescription medication, increase blood pressure, and cause severe drops in blood sugar.
For more information on heart health, check out the American Heart Association.