February is the American Heart Health Awareness month. Since Valentine’s Day is celebrated during February, and it’s focused on hearts, February is a great month to focus on the physical aspects of heart health along with the emotional ones. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is encouraging Americans to join together to motivate one another to live in a way that supports heart health. According to the NHLBI’s website, “research shows having social support and personal networks makes getting regular physical activity, eating healthy, losing weight, reducing stress and quitting smoking easier.” We can better our health and the health of those we love by joining together to make lifestyle changes that will increase our quality of life. By making these lifestyle changes, we decrease our chances of developing heart disease, and we increase our chances of living a long, healthy life.
Why is Heart Health Awareness Month Important?
In the United States, heart disease kills over half a million people every year. It’s responsible for 25% of deaths worldwide and kills more people than every form of cancer combined. With these numbers, it’s no wonder that the NHLBI wants to raise awareness about maintaining heart health throughout our lives.
Raising awareness surrounding the seriousness of having a healthy heart is a great way to motivate and empower individuals to take steps toward bettering their heart health. The leading causes of heart disease are heavily influenced by lifestyle choices. Here’s how we can keep our heart healthy.
How Can We Keep Our Hearts Healthy?
Since most of the major risk factors of heart disease are heavily affected by lifestyle choices, making changes in our daily activities and routines can help us cultivate a healthier heart and have an enormous effect on our quality and length of life. Below we have 3 of the leading factors of heart disease and suggestions for lifestyle changes you can make to lessen the impact of those factors on your health.
1. High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is at the top of the list of risk factors for developing heart disease. Luckily, there are several things you can do to help lower your blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, blood pressure can often increase as your weight does. Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do to lower your blood pressure. Making lifestyle changes that will help you stay in a normal weight range for your body will help you maintain proper heart health. A healthy waist measurement is a good indicator of whether or not you’re at risk for heart disease.
Contacting a doctor to ask about what a healthy waist measurement is for you is a great idea for a first step to lowering your blood pressure. At Premier Family Medical, we offer services to help you reduce your hypertension. We have a section on our website that can help answer common questions concerning hypertension.
2. High Blood Cholesterol
High blood cholesterol is the second leading cause of heart disease. Some medications can help you lower your blood cholesterol, and if that is the route you would prefer to manage your blood cholesterol, contact Premier Family Medical to speak with a doctor about a potential prescription. If you would rather make some healthy lifestyle changes to reduce your blood cholesterol, there are a few diet changes that you can make that will help.
Eating a diet that is high in omega-3’s, soluble fiber and whey protein will help you lower your blood cholesterol. Eliminating trans fats, and reducing saturated fats are also key components of maintaining your heart health. Adding fish into your weekly meal schedule is a great way to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish like mackerel, salmon, and herring are high in omega-3’s. If you prefer a plant-based option, flaxseed and chia seed are high in omega-3’s and can be added to soups, smoothies, and practically any dish for the added fatty acids.
3. Obesity and Overweight
Obese and overweight individuals are at a high risk of heart disease. This has a lot to do with hypertension and high blood cholesterol is so common in overweight people. As discussed before, maintaining healthy body weight is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease. In the United States, 42.5% of the population 20 and over are obese. This means over half the population is at an increased risk of developing heart disease. If we include individuals who are overweight to the percentage it becomes 73.6%.
Incorporating more movement and less ultra-processed food into your lifestyle will help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce hypertension and high blood cholesterol, and thereby reduce your risk of death from heart disease.
Contact Premier Family Medical to Keep Your Heart Healthy
At Premier Family Medical, we are dedicated to providing excellent healthcare that will allow you to experience a long, high-quality life. Meeting with one of our health professionals to create a plan to better your heart health is a great first step to creating a healthy lifestyle. Our friendly team is ready to help you in any way we can, contact us today to schedule an appointment.