Fitness Facts: February is American Heart Month
By Connie Colbert
Director, Canyon Health and Wellness Clinic
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States and will be diagnosed in one-quarter of Americans. Most people believe that heart disease is limited to older adults, but statistics show that it is happening to young adults all too often.
What many people may not know is that heart disease may be prevented by making healthy choices.
February is American Heart Month, which makes it a perfect time to assess your risk.
The top three risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Other factors that further increase your risk of heart disease are:
- Obesity: Extra weight puts stress on your heart and over time causes dysfunction and disease.
- Diabetes: This can cause sugar to build up in the blood and destroy the blood vessels and nerves that control the heart.
- Physical inactivity: See what the Mayo Clinic has to say in this article: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005
- Unhealthy eating patterns: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC, 2018), most Americans, including children, eat too much sodium, which increases blood pressure. Replacing foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. But only 1 in 10 adults is getting enough fruits and vegetables each day. A diet high in trans-fat, saturated fat and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.
What can you do?
Well, it all starts with the determination to either prevent the disease or stop its progression. Some simple changes can help:
- Get a daily dose of physical activity, such as a brisk, 30-minute walk.
- Cook meals that are low in sodium and unhealthy fats.
- Take your medications as prescribed and keep your medical appointments.
- Sleep 7-8 hours a night.
- Manage stress through, for example, meditation, yoga, a warm bath or quiet time with a good book or funny movie.
- Try to reach or stay at a healthy weight by moving more and having snacks like fruits and veggies ready to grab when hunger hits.
- Don’t smoke.
- Manage your current health conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol by seeing a health provider routinely and sticking to the treatment plan.
- Make heart-healthy eating a priority: Make small changes first and add more along the way. Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits and aim for low sodium options. The DASH diet is a great way to start.
Assess your risk by clicking on the link below:
Be good to your heart! It will thank you.
Also, spread the word to others! Let them know the risks of an unhealthy lifestyle. We are in this together!