Every year, one out of every four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease – the leading killer in both men and women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. While that is a sobering statistic, there are a variety of ways you can remain heart healthy no matter which stage of life you are in.
February is American Heart Month, so now is a great time for us here at the Bannister Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing to educate patients, residents, and visitors about heart health.
Consult Your Doctor to Start Your Path to Heart Health
Of course, good health starts with seeing your doctor and staying on top of any concerns. Many issues that are detected early can be managed by medicine, lifestyle changes, or a combination of both.
Your doctor will know the best medicinal plan for you, but there are seven lifestyle habits that you can adopt now to improve or maintain your heart health.
The DHHS recommends about 30 minutes of daily moderate-intensity exercise. For seniors, this can include walking, treadmill, stationary bike, chair exercises, stretching, and balance. If chronic conditions prevent you from meeting the 150-minute weekly goal, the DHHS advises consulting with your doctor to devise a fitness plan.
2. Quit Smoking
Among other health issues, smoking puts great stress on your heart.
3. Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Nutritionists say to maintain a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and limit processed foods, fatty meats, saturated fat, and extra salt.
4. Know Your Numbers
As noted above, regular visits to your doctor can detect irregularities in cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other key factors of heart health.
5. Minimize Alcohol Use
There are studies that suggest a glass of red wine daily can be good for your health, but an excessive amount of alcohol (especially on a regular basis) is bad news for many of your systems. Most beers, especially craft beers that are currently very popular, are also high in calories.
6. Manage Stress
High-stress levels can raise blood pressure and even prevent you from getting the proper amount of sleep. Numbers 1 through 3 above will help with stress issues, and you can do other things (like meditation) to keep your mind calm.
7. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Again, following many of these tips should help you stay at a good weight. Everyone’s body is different, so your doctor can help determine a good weight that you should be at.
It’s Never Too Late to Get Heart Healthy
Even if you spent many years (or decades) not abiding by these seven guidelines, it’s not too late. Start by seeing your doctor and coming up with a plan, then abiding by it, to reduce your risk of heart disease.