February is being observed as “American Heart Month” – it’s a unique opportunity to spread awareness about heart disease and make positive efforts to promote heart health. Heart disease, (caused by the buildup of fatty plaques along the walls of the heart’s arteries), is a leading cause of death (for both men and women) in the United States, accounting for 1 in every 4 deaths each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this disease kills an estimated 600,000 Americans each year.
Preventing heart disease means making smart lifestyle choices now that will pay off during the rest of your life. Lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits can take their toll over the years. High blood pressure, obesity, smoking and diabetes can increase your potential risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Age, gender and family history of heart disease also play a dominant role. Incorporating some simple steps into daily life patterns can help people at any age to stay healthy and reduce the potential risk of heart disease, stroke and other major cardiovascular problems.
Here are some lifestyle tips to keep your heart healthy.
- Schedule a yearly checkup – Schedule a health checkup every year and get your blood pressure level, cholesterol, and blood sugar correctly monitored by a physician. Follow your physician’s recommendations (including prescribed medications) to reach or maintain a healthy body weight.
- Quit smoking – Cigarette smoking and secondhand exposure to smoke increases the risks of heart disease, lung disease, peripheral vascular disease and stroke. Nicotine patches, inhalers, or gum often fail to stop the habit of smoking. Smoking cessation programs offered by reputable healthcare centers in Brooklyn, NYC are a good alternative to address (both the physiological and psychological aspects) of nicotine addiction. These FDA-approved programs combine auriculotherapy, addiction education, and counseling.
- Watch your diet – A healthy and nutritious diet can help reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, thereby increasing the chances of survival after a heart attack. Follow a balanced diet – comprising fresh vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich whole grains and fish. Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium.
- Stay active – Staying physically active can reduce your risk of heart disease to a great extent. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each day. Keeping fit not only benefits your physical health – it improves your mental health and wellbeing too.
- Maintain a healthy body weight – Overweight is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. If you are overweight or obese, start by making small, but healthy changes to what you eat, and try to become more active. Getting enrolled for weight loss programs offered by reliable healthcare centers will be an ideal option. Such programs typically include psychological evaluation, nutritional evaluation, setting goals and treatment.
- Cut down intake of salt – Reduce your intake of salt as this will help reduce your blood pressure.
- Monitor your alcohol – Binge drinking habits can damage the heart muscle, increase blood pressure and also lead to weight gain. Limit or stop your intake of alcohol.
- Recognize the early signs of coronary heart disease – Always recognize the initial symptoms associated with heart disease. Tightness or discomfort in the chest, neck, arm or stomach which people experience when they exert themselves completely, but goes away with rest may be the initial or early signs which can lead to a heart attack if left untreated.