February is American Heart Month which makes this a great time to raise awareness about heart disease and how you can prevent it.
Heart disease causes 1 in 4 deaths every year. It is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. While it is a very serious disease, it can often be prevented by making healthy life choices and managing your existing health conditions.
Spices instead of salt:
Americans consume more than the daily recommended amount of salt (1500 milligrams) per day. Salt makes your body retain water which will increase your blood pressure - causing strain on your heart. While some salt in your diet is necessary for good health; you don’t need added amounts to make your food more flavorful. There are other ways to season your favorite meals without packing on the salt. Try spices like cumin, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, oregano, sage, or even lemon peel. Ginger, cilantro, and garlic are also great salt replacements.
Maintain a healthy weight:
Did you know that even a small amount of weight loss can boost your heart health? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 66% of American adults are considered overweight, and 32% of them are obese. Changing the way you approach weight loss can help you be more successful in your journey. Try a healthy eating plan by taking smaller portions. Stick to poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts and focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products. Not only will you give yourself the nutrients your body needs, but you’ll lower your risk for heart disease and other risky conditions.
Limit your alcohol:
Long-term excessive drinking increases your risk of developing heart problems. Consuming alcohol is okay, just as long as it’s done in moderation. Moderate alcohol consumption is considered one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Excessive drinking is when you have more than three drinks a day for both men and women. Drinking heavily can weaken and damage your heart muscle, meaning that the heart cannot pump blood as efficiently as it should. Damage to the heart muscle can lead to heart failure which is when your heart can no longer pump blood around your body normally. So, can you have that celebratory martini, or share a beer with your friends? Certainly! Just stay focused and remember to drink in moderation. Your heart health should be more important than another round.
Get physically active:
Getting and staying active has endless benefits, and not just to your heart health. It’s important to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. If exercising just isn’t your thing, start by going for a walk 10-15 minutes a day, three days a week. It’ll be a good start and you can gradually build up from there. You can also engage in other physical activities such as golfing or playing tennis. If you enjoy these things, make them a weekly routine. Join hiking or biking groups; this is a great way to spend time outdoors and get in some activity as well. Dancing, yoga, gardening, etc. are also perfect ways to remain active while lowering any potential risk of heart disease and other serious illnesses.
The Cardiopulmonary services offered at Touchette Regional Hospital can help you maintain a heart-healthy life. We provide a number of tests, treatments and procedures to ensure that your heartbeat is stronger than the day before. Come see our exceptional providers today!