Follow your Heart to Healthy Habits
February is American Heart Month

Several health conditions, your lifestyle, age and family history can increase your risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease occurs when fatty deposits build up in your arteries. When this happens, your arteries can narrow over time, reducing blood flow to the heart. To keep your heart healthy so it functions as well as it should, it needs a supply of oxygen-rich blood. Follow these tips to manage your heart health and reduce your risk for heart disease.

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Smoking is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. If you smoke, create a plan to quit by contacting a smoking coach at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  • Exercise daily as tolerated. This will help you manage your stress, weight, and blood pressure and help your heart perform well as you age.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Add some red foods to every meal. Think strawberries, tomatoes, apples and red peppers. Aim for 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Eat lean protein rich foods to make your stomach feel full longer, keep blood sugar stable and prevent you from overeating.
  • Always control your portion sizes. How much you eat is just as important as what you eat.
  • Reduce intake of foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, salt, and refined sugar. Avoid fried foods. This will help lower your bad cholesterol and raise your good cholesterol level. High blood pressure and high blood cholesterol level is another major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Take your medications regularly as directed by your doctor. Keep up with your preventive screening. This is important in identifying early signs and symptoms of a disease. Keep up with scheduled visits to your primary doctor and specialists (cardiologist, endocrinologist, dentist, eye doctor, podiatrist and audiologist).
  • Ask your doctor about the benefits of taking statins, a medication that will help lower your cholesterol level. (Simvastatin, Atorvastatin).
  • Let go of stress. Learn to meditate.
  • Get enough rest and sleep.

If you or someone around you experiences the following signs and symptoms, please call 911 immediately.

  • Chest pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a few minutes.
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Weakness, light-headedness, nausea (feeling sick to your stomach), or a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulder and shortness of breath.