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Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined) kills about 2,300 a day. American Heart Month is vital for awareness, but the American Heart Association urges people to take care of their hearts year-round.  Shutterstock
Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined) kills about 2,300 a day. American Heart Month is vital for awareness, but the American Heart Association urges people to take care of their hearts year-round.  Shutterstock

Five Tips for a healthier heart

February is American Heart Month, a time when the nation turns its attention to helping prevent heart disease, the #1 killer in the United States.

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Heart disease claims more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Your friends at The American Heart Association have compiled a list of five easy tips that can help you live a longer, healthier life shared in the company of your family.

Maintain a healthy diet

• Center your eating plan around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, plant-based proteins, lean animal proteins, and fish. 

• Limit sweetened drinks, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, processed meats, sodium, and saturated fats. Avoid trans fat. 

Keep an Exercise Regimen

• Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. 

• If you’re already active, increase your intensity for more benefits. If you’re not active now, turning up the music and dancing is an excellent way to get started.

The American Heart Month, a federally designated event, reinforces the importance of heart health and the need for more research, with a reminder to get families, friends and communities involved.  Shutterstock
Live tobacco-free

• Don’t smoke, vape, or use tobacco products. 

•Try to quit if you do smoke. Ask for help if you don’t think you can stop on your own. 

Know your risk

• Going to the doctor will allow you to build a heart disease prevention plan. Talk about challenges in your life that may affect your health – like stress, sleep, mental health, family situations, tobacco use, food access, social support, and more. The doctor can only help you if you tell them what’s affecting you.

• If you’re 40-75 years old and have never had a heart attack or stroke, use the American Heart Association’s Check. Change. Control. CalculatorTM to estimate your risk of a cardiovascular event in the next ten years. 

Take your medicine

• Your doctor may prescribe statins or other medications to help control blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. Take all medications as directed. 

• Don’t take daily aspirin unless your doctor tells you to. 

These are simple steps you can take to help decrease your heart disease risk. Unfortunately, there are factors beyond your control. That’s why the American Heart Association is advocating for affordable housing, fair wages, strong school systems, safe streets, and access to healthy food for all to allow for a future where health is no longer determined by zip code. 

Similarly, the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative – nationally sponsored by CVS Health – is working to end heart disease and stroke in women. You can join in the effort to raise awareness by wearing red on February 5th to share the facts and tips to a healthy heart with your family, coworkers, and friends. For more information, go to heart.org.

Let’s make this American Heart Month a time to improve our habits for better health and reduced heart disease risk. 

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