Are You (or A Loved One) At Risk for Heart Disease?

While showering your loved ones with flowers, cards, and chocolate, the gift that on keeps giving is a healthy heart. Along with Valentines Day, February is American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health. Heart disease is the #1 leading cause of death in the U.S. Every 1 in 4 women die from heart disease (according to the CDC). 

Want to help protect the heart of someone you love? 

Here’s how you can help prevent heart disease:

1. Talk to a health advisor about your health and your family’s health history. If you are overweight, inactive, or a smoker, you may be more at risk of heart disease. Excessive consumption of alcohol can also raise your risk, as can high blood pressure, diabetes,  and other medical conditions. To learn more about your own risk factors, and the best steps you can take to protect your heart, reach out to Better Health Advisors.

2. Quit smoking, and if you drink, only drink in moderation. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage your heart and blood vessels, causing atherosclerosis, which increases your risk of heart disease. Drinking moderate amounts of alcohol may protect your heart from the risks of coronary artery disease, but drinking a lot over time or drinking too much at once can put your heart at risk, according to the National Institutes of Health

3. Get regular health screenings. Whether or not you have a family history of heart disease, it’s important to make heart health a priority. This includes regular blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar screenings, among other things. Has it been a while since your last check-up? Go ahead and schedule one, even if you feel completely healthy. If you’re looking for a new doctor, or would like to see a specialist about your heart or any other medical issue, Better Health Advisors can help.

4. Eat right. Stick to heart-healthy foods. Some foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, help protect your heart. On the other hand, too much salt, sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat, can be unhealthy. Interested in talking to a nutritionist about the best food plan for your body and activity level? Ask us for a recommendation.

5. Move your body. The heart is a muscle, and to keep it healthy, you’ve got to exercise. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity, or a combination of the two—but shorter amounts are still helpful. Find a form of exercise that you enjoy, and stick with it. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new fitness program.

6. Relax. Meditate. Go for a walk. Spend time with friends. Take a few deep breaths. Stress is often a risk factor for heart disease, according to the New York Times, so make time for activities that lower your stress level.