February is National Heart Health Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to clue in to your heart and assess your health. After all, cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in America with stroke following up as the #4 culprit in the nation. One reason that these two diseases are so dangerous is due to one’s lack of commitment to keep a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Your lifestyle isn’t just your best defense against heart disease and stroke, but it’s also your responsibility to uphold to have a healthy, happy life. To help you become and remain healthy and reduce your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease, follow these 8 tips below to help you obtain a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Quit Smoking – If you don’t smoke, keep up the good work and avoid second-hand smoke as much as you can. If you do smoke, take the steps to quit today, and if someone in your home smokes, encourage them to quit as well. It’s an incredibly hard step to take, but it’s well worth it and is much more difficult to recover from a heart attack or a stroke. Besides, it doesn’t matter how long you smoke – your quitting today can help you drastically improve your health in only a short while.
Eat Good Food – We know that cheeseburgers, ice cream, and fried chicken are delicious, but they have little nutrition to offer. A healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients is one of the best weapons you have in the fight against heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grain and high-fiber foods, fish, lean protein, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products is essential to help you maintain a healthy weight and keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.
Lower Your Cholesterol – Fat lodged in your arteries is nothing but a disaster waiting to happen – sooner or later it could trigger a heart attack or a stroke. Fight this by reducing your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol and begin exercising. If a good diet and exercise won’t get your numbers down, the right medication could do the trick as long as you take it like the doctor orders you.
Keep Your Blood Pressure Low – This is the single largest risk factor for having a stroke, which is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States. Defend yourself from strokes by kicking your salt habit, taking any medications that your doctor tells you to take, exercising, and keeping your stress levels low. A good range to shoot for is 120/80.
Get Moving – Research has shown that engaging in at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity 5 or more days of the week can help lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, and keep you at a healthy weight. If you aren’t active now, don’t jump straight into a very difficult work-out regimen. Ease yourself into it. Even 10 minutes of exercise a day may offer some health benefits!
Get to a Healthy Weight – America is in the wake of a real epidemic – obesity. An epidemic occurs when a health problem is out of control and when many are affected by it. The answer in fighting obesity and getting to a healthy weight is accepting a nutritious diet, controlling your calorie intake, and ramping up your physical activity. Remember, obesity places you at risk for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance, a precursor of type 2 diabetes. Don’t know if your weight is healthy? Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) to see if it’s a healthy number or not.
Manage Stress – Some studies show a relationship between coronary heart disease risk and the stress in one’s life, which can affect the risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Those who are very stressed may have a tendency to overeat, start smoking, smoke more than they would otherwise, or drink heavily. Research has shown that this strong reaction to stress in young adults predicts their middle-age blood pressure risk. Fight off or manage your stress by exercising, keeping a positive attitude, not smoking, not drinking too much coffee, keeping a healthy diet, and maintaining a healthy weight.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake – Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure and lead to a stroke or heart failure, and it can also lead to high triglycerides, irregular heartbeats, and can affect cancer and other diseases. Frighteningly enough, it also contributes to being obese, developing alcoholism, and causing fatal accidents. If you must drink alcohol, please remember to limit yourself to two drinks per day if you are a man and one drink per day if you are a woman.
If you’re concerned about your cholesterol levels, lipid levels, or any signs of cardiovascular disease, we can help. We work quickly and accurately with the latest technology to ensure that the test results you need are finished within 48 hours – no questions asked! Just call us at (314) 522-8387 to schedule an appointment or visit us online at www.labtestdiagnostics.com to find out more about who we are and what we do!