February is National Heart Month in the U.S., where heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women. Nearly half of all Americans exhibit at least one of the risk factors. Fortunately, the likelihood of developing heart disease can be drastically diminished by modest changes in our daily routines and lifestyle choices.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are a few lifestyle interventions that are proven to protect your heart:
Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods.
Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and sugar levels. For adults, the Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling, every week.
Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women only 1.
This February and throughout 2017, take steps to understand your own risk factors and help prevent heart disease by adopting these or other healthy lifestyle changes. Also, talk to your primary healthcare provider about any risk factors you may have.
Missouri’s Community Health Centers provide primary medical, dental, behavioral health and pharmacy services and are open to all residents, regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. Check out the our website to find a Community Health Center near you.