Each February the American Heart Association along with other national and local organizations come together to highlight the importance of a heart healthy lifestyle to protect against and raise awareness of the risks of heart related diseases. One in every five women in the United States has some form of heart disease making it their #1 cause of death nationwide. In addition, it is projected that by 2035, over 45% of individuals in the United States will suffer from some type of cardiovascular disease.
But all is not lost, there is a lot you can do to protect your heart.
Maintain a healthy weight:
Being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk of developing serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and many others.
Regular physical activity can help decrease your risk of heart and other diseases as well. It is recommended that adults complete 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days per week and that children should be twice as active, completing at least 60 minutes per day.
Eat a healthy diet:
Eating healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables can decrease you chance of heart disease. In addition decrease you sodium intake can also make a big impact as well. It is recommended that the average American eat less than 2000mg of sodium daily, when in reality the average American usually eats well over 3000mg!
Smoking raises the risk of many diseases including lung cancer, COPD, and Heart failure. If you do smoke try to stop. Not only will you save tons of money no longer smoking but your health will improve as well. There are many assistance programs available to help with smoking if assistance is needed such as the N.Y. State Smokers’ Quitline at (866)-NY-QUITS or www.nysmokefree.com, and the National Cancer Institute Quitline at (877) 44U-QUIT or www.smokefree.gov.
Minimize alcohol consumption:
Excessive alcohol is linked to many diseases including heart and liver disease. If you drink do alcohol, drink only in moderation.
See your doctor:
Many individuals who have some form of heart disease do not even know it until it is too late. Be sure to see your doctor on a regular basis and always have your free annual physical to determine your risk and optimize your health.
While getting the message out may not directly help your risk of heart disease it can make others aware of the risks and bring attention to current research efforts. Check out the American Heart Associations, You’re the Cure website (www.yourethecure.org) for more information if you want to get involved.