Five Ways To Care For Your Heart During American Heart Month

Cardiovascular disease — stroke, heart disease, and heart failure — affects one in three American adults. It causes more deaths than any other illness, including cancer. But with lifestyle changes, you can dramatically reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. During American Heart Month, challenge yourself to take these healthy steps.

Visit a Doctor
The first step of heart health is awareness. Make sure you always know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. If your blood pressure or cholesterol numbers are too high, then talk to your doctor about solutions. Even if you feel healthy, be sure to visit the doctor at least once a year. You may not show signs of high blood pressure or heart disease.

Get Some Exercise
A healthy lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease by 80 percent. Doctors suggest at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise five times per week. Exercising will lower your blood pressure and burn calories, as well as reduce your LDL cholesterol, the “bad cholesterol” that forms plaque in your veins and arteries. Aerobic exercise includes brisk walking, running, dancing, or using the elliptical. Some household chores, including sweeping and vacuuming, qualify as exercise.

If you don’t have time for a full workout, walk around the neighborhood with your family. Any exercise is better than sitting on the couch — regularly sitting for an extended amount of time will increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Eat Heart-Healthy Food
You can eat your way to a healthy heart. Sneak these heart-healthy foods into your everyday diet:
Green tea
Leafy greens

To have a healthy heart, avoid these foods:
Sugary drinks
Red meat
Salty foods
Fried foods

Manage Your Stress
Stress is a silent killer. It can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. In your fast-paced life, you may not realize you’re stressed. But if you experience these symptoms, you may be stressed:

Aches in stomach or back
Tight muscles
Sore neck
Tense jaw

If you’re feeling stressed, try a few ways to unwind:
Light yoga
10-minute walk
Spend time outdoors
Listen to music
Spend time with friends

Donate to the Cause
Use your talents, time, or money to help an organization that supports heart health. Here are a few organizations that need your support:   

American Heart Association
This is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. Your volunteer work will help fund innovative research and fight for stronger public health policies.

Go Red for Women
American Heart Association created Go Red For Women to educate and empower women at risk for heart disease. Go Red is looking for event volunteers and advocates.

Million Hearts
Million Hearts hopes to help prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services co-lead the initiative on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

WomenHeart was founded by three women who had heart attacks in their 40s. After their experience, they started an organization is dedicated to helping women with heart disease.


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