February is American Heart Month and according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. This is alarming, but there is good news—heart disease is preventable and controllable! Some of the risk factors that lead to heart disease include Obesity, Physical Inactivity, Smoking, Hypertension and Diabetes. Here are some things you can do to be heart-healthy:
- Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least 5 servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans-fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt in your diet also can lower your blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you to maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease.
- Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.
- Have your cholesterol checked. Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every five years. Talk with your doctor about this simple blood test.
- Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your doctor about treatment options.
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