February is Heart Health Month and the Journal Reporter's Health Living page shares tips for preventing heart disease through smart decision making.
In the U.S., one in every four deaths is caused by heart disease.
This makes heart disease the leading cause of death for men and women. However, the good news is people can take steps to prevent heart disease and make healthy choices to decrease their risk.
February is American Heart Month and the CDC and American Heart Association work to raise awareness about heart disease and how to prevent it. Here are some things you can do now to reduce your risk at any age:
• Choose a healthy eating plan: The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds and try eating some meals without meat. Limit sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat.
• Be physically active: It is recommended you do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity every week or an hour or 75 minutes per day. So whatever kind of activity is your favorite, just get out and move.
• Find a doctor and have routine wellness exams: It is important for people of all ages to have a medical home where they receive regular care.
• Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke: Smokers are at a much higher risk for developing heart disease than nonsmokers. Free help is available through the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line at 1-877-270-STOP.
• Know your family history: Having a relative with heart disease increases your risk and more so if the relative is a parent or sibling. That means you need to focus on risk factors you can control by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and eating right.
• Tame your stress: Long-term stress causes an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that may damage your heart’s walls. Take some time each day to be mindful, present and work on stress reduction activities. This could mean taking a walk, deep breathing, reading a book or even trying out yoga.
Preventing heart disease means making smart choices now that will improve your life to come. For more, go to heart.org