February is American Heart Health Month!

Stay heart healthy with these tips!

Know your blood pressure and heart rate numbers!
For healthy adults, a good blood pressure is one that is around 120/80. A top number (systolic) that is consistently greater than 139 is concerning. A bottom number (diastolic) greater than 90 is also of concern. High blood pressure can lead to organ damage, e.g. stroke, blindness, heart failure, kidney failure, etc. It is also important for you and your doctor to know and monitor your cholesterol levels.

Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and cut back the salt intake.
You can help reduce the workload of your heart by eating more fruits and vegetables and staying away from processed and high sodium foods—aim for less than 2,300 mg sodium per day. Those with high blood pressure may be asked by their doctor to reduce their sodium intake to less than 1,500 mg per day. The DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and focuses on fruits, vegetables, and low-fat or non-fat dairy. It also includes whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts, and beans. Here are some helpful sample DASH menus:

Exercise and weight control.
Obesity is strongly correlated to high blood pressure. As little as 60 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity, such as a brisk walk, can help your heart. For the most benefits, aim for 2.5 hours per week. Other ideas may include biking, dancing, jumping rope, or jogging. The important thing is to move!

Quit smoking!
Smokers, and those around them, are at a significantly greater risk for developing high blood pressure and heart disease.

Reduce alcohol intake.
If you do drink alcohol, do it in moderation.

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