February is American Heart Month! With heart disease claiming over 600,000 American lives each year, it is important to take an active role in reducing your risk for heart disease. The good news is there are changes you can make in your daily routine to help keep your heart healthy and strong.
Try incorporating these habits to maintain heart health all year long.
- Avoid eating certain types of fats.
We all need some fat in our diet; however, it is important to limit the amount of trans fat you consume, which includes packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarines and fried fast foods. This particular type of fat has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and stroke and may contribute to clogged arteries. Reducing trans fat in your diet will have a positive impact on the blood flow throughout your entire body.
- Practice good dental hygiene by flossing and brushing your teeth daily.
Dental health is a good indicator of overall health, including your heart. Studies have shown bacteria that triggers gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause inflammation of the blood vessels. This may also increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Get enough rest.
Sleep is an essential part of maintaining a healthy heart. Studies indicate that adults who slept fewer than six hours each night were almost twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to those who slept six to eight 8 hours. According to researchers, sleep deficiencies may cause disruptions in underlying health issues and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation.
- Stay physically active.
Physical activity helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy. Try to include 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week. Go for a walk, participate in an exercise class or work out in the gym. Try to include both cardiovascular and strength training activities in your routine.
- Refrain from smoking and avoid second-hand smoke.
Smoking causes damage to the blood vessels and increases your risk for heart disease. In addition, it is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you or someone you know is a smoker, speak to a doctor to learn the best method to quit.
- Manage current health conditions.
Work with your health care team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This includes taking any medications prescribed as recommended by your physician.
We hope you have a heart healthy February!
About the Author
Sherry Stick is the fitness and aquatics coordinator at Carroll Lutheran Village and has been working for CLV for nearly 20 years.