FOCUS on 5: living heart healthy
Heart disease continues to be the leading cause of death for American adults. The good news is that many of the risk factors for heart disease can be reduced by making healthy lifestyle choices.
Eat Heart Healthy
Eating heart healthy makes a difference in health outcomes. Heart healthy eating involves consuming vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, lean meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products, legumes, and vegetable oils. Heart healthy eating means limiting sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and alcohol.
How you react to stress and manage stress impacts your heart health. The hormone cortisol is released in response to stress. Studies suggest that high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. Identify what makes you stressed or angry and come up with coping techniques.
Try these simple stress busters:
• Go for a walk
• Think of a fond memory
• Talk with a friend
• Take five deep breaths
Visit a qualified mental health professional for assistance in managing chronic stress.
Routine physical activity and reduction in sedentary lifestyle can lower heart disease risk factors. Even 10 minutes at a time of aerobic exercise can be effective. Find something that you enjoy or can do with a family member, friend, or coworker.
Quit Tobacco or Nicotine
There is no safe tobacco or nicotine use. If you smoke, chew or vape, quit. Smoking can worsen heart disease risk factors and raise your risk of heart attack. Check with your health insurance plan or employer for resources to help you quit.
Aim for a Healthy Weight
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a good indicator of healthy weight for most individuals. It is a ratio determined by your height and weight. A healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Consult your physician for resources to support your weight loss or weight management goals.
Source: National Heart Lung and Blood Institute