February 2020 marks the 56th consecutive American Heart Month, during which the nation turns its attention to keeping families and communities free from heart disease. Join OAAPN in discussing heart healthy tips this month.
Cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and strokes, kills about 2,300 people each day and contributes to the death of more people than all forms of cancer combined. Though 83% of people believe that heart attacks can be prevented, many are not willing to take the necessary steps to improve their health. The result is that heart disease is being diagnosed earlier than ever.
Heart disease is preventable in most cases with healthy choices, including:
- Choose not to smoke, or quit smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels and can cause heart disease.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity puts extra stress on the heart that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Obesity, diabetes, eating unhealthy foods, and not getting enough physical activity also can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels and an increased risk of heart disease.
- Treat high blood pressure. One of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and strokes, high blood pressure is diagnosed in millions of Americans, including many in their 40s and 50s.
- Get active. You should get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, a guideline that only 1 in 5 adults meet.
- Establish healthy eating patterns. Replace foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables to help lower blood pressure, and avoid a diet high in trans-fat, saturated fat, and added sugar that can increase the risk factors for heart disease.
- Schedule regular check-ups. Annual physical exams will allow your doctor to monitor your risk factors for heart disease and help you to make necessary lifestyle changes.