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Heart Health

American Heart Month Reminders Here on the Suncoast

| Angela Naff |

February is American Heart Month and a time for people to focus in on their cardiovascular health. Every year more than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease. The number one cause of death for most groups, heart disease, affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use. If you haven’t already taken a few moments this month to consider your health, we have compiled a quick list of to-do items to check in on your heart and tips to stay healthy.

Check Your Heart Health

Many things impact your heart health that needs to be considered constantly. For instance, smoking and other tobacco use are among the top things to never start or stop immediately. Chemicals in tobacco can damage the heart and blood vessels. Cigarette smoke reduces the oxygen in the blood, which increases blood pressure and heart rate because the muscle has to work harder to supply enough oxygen to the body and brain.

Heart Healthy
Courtesy of Unsplash

Physical activity, of small or large measure, can be a huge factor in staying healthy. Regular, daily physical activity can lower the risk of heart disease. Physical activity helps control your weight. It also reduces the chances of developing other conditions that may put a strain on the heart, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Even if some form of regular activity is not something you are currently doing, slight changes in your routine can vastly change your future health.

  • Get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of both preferably spread throughout the week.
  • Add moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity (such as resistance or weights) at least two days per week.
  • Spend less time sitting. Even light-intensity activity can offset some of the risks of being sedentary.
  • Gain even more benefits by being active for at least 300 minutes (5 hours) per week.
  • Increase the amount and intensity gradually over time.

Even if some form of regular activity is not something you are currently doing, slight changes in your routine can vastly change your future health.

Other Tips to Improve Hearth Health

As most know, your food intake can change your health trajectory in many ways. While different foods have a variety of impacts, both positive and negative, on a body, when dealing with the heart in particular, eating the following improve many contributing bodily functions to heart health:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Beans or other legumes
  • Lean meats and fish
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy foods
  • Whole grains
  • Healthy fats, such as olive oil
Heart Health
Courtesy of Unsplash

Limiting the intact of the following also adds value to a heart-healthy diet:

  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Processed carbohydrates
  • Alcohol
  • Saturated fat (found in red meat and full-fat dairy products) and trans fat (found in fried fast food, chips, and baked goods)

How much you eat is just as important as what you eat. Overloading your plate, taking seconds, and eating until you feel stuffed can lead to eating more calories than you should. Portions served in restaurants are often more than anyone needs.

Following a few simple tips to control food portion size can help you shape up your diet as well as your heart and waistline:

  • Use a small plate or bowl to help control your portions.
  • Eat more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables
  • Eat smaller amounts of high-calorie, high-sodium foods, such as refined, processed, or fast foods.

Remembering your heart each and every day of your life can be a game changer for you. From getting up and active, what you eat and regular check in’s with health professionals to monitor your health is vital. February is a month to advocate, educate and focus attention on this subject, but it needs to remain a focus for the healthiest of lives.

Feature Photo Courtesy of Deposit Photos

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