Face the facts: If you are not actively taking care of your heart, it can’t take care of you. According to the American Heart Association, more than one in three women has a form of cardiovascular disease. And, heart disease is the leading cause of hospital stays for men in the United States. While there are risk factors that contribute to heart disease that you can’t control—such as genetics or your age—there are many things you can do to maintain your heart health. Take time this month to assess your risk factors and take control of your health.
Check out the list of risk factors for heart disease that you can control below. Do any of these sound familiar?
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Overweight or obese
- Males with a waist measurement of 40 inches or more and females having a waist measurement of 35 inches or more
- Inactive lifestyle
- Type 2 diabetes
- Poor diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol
Combining regular physical activity with a healthy diet, adequate sleep, effective stress management and avoidance of tobacco slashes your risk of heart disease and premature death dramatically. The following lifestyle recommendations can help you to reduce your risks and promote a heart-healthy life:
- Get regular medical checkups with your primary care physician and make sure your doctor checks your blood pressure at each visit (or at least every two years if you are in good health).
- Have your blood cholesterol checked at least every five years.
- Do not smoke or use illegal drugs.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Maintain a healthy weight and get regular exercise.
- Take a low-dose of aspirin daily (consult your doctor first though).
- Follow a diet low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
- Limit your sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,400 milligrams per day.
- Keep stress under control.
For more tips and information on heart disease, visit the American Heart Association at www.heart.org.
Recognize the Signs
Can you recognize the signs of a heart attack? If not, remember the 3 most common symptoms, and seek emergency medical assistance if you or someone with you experiences any of the following:
- Chest Discomfort – pressure, fullness or pain
- Shortness of breath
- Breaking out into a cold sweat, dizziness or nausea