February is heart health month. Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Yet, Americans have the ability to make “heart smart” choices every day, to reduce their risk of heart disease. Simple changes can make lasting benefits to your health and well-being.
Smoking cessation is paramount to good heart health. Tobacco abuse can increase the risk of heart disease several ways. Smoking raises blood pressure, can cause plaque to form in the arteries, and lead to the formation of life threatening blood clots. Check with your medical provider for information on smoking cessation.
Maintaining an ideal body weight is essential for good heart health. Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, and places the body under undue stress. Obesity is also associated with an increased risk of diabetes, which can further raise the risk of heart disease.
Eat a healthy diet. A daily intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products will improve overall health. Adequate fluid intake (water) will prevent dehydration, improve circulation, and aid with digestion. Lowering your intake of frozen and processed foods will most likely lower your daily intake of fat and sodium as well.
Lead an active lifestyle. Increase your daily exercise and activity level and directly improve your overall heart health. Simple activity, such as walking (instead of driving), taking the stairs (instead of the elevator), and riding your bike (instead of other forms of transportation) can improve your heart health, lower your stress levels, and decrease your risk of heart disease.
Simple is best! You have the ability to positively affect your heart health. For more information of heart heath, check out your local chapter of the American Heart Association.