This February marks the 50th Anniversary of American Hearth Month. Over the past half century, we’ve been fortunate to witness significant progress in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, and millions of Americans now live healthier and longer lives as a result.
Despite these advances, heart disease remains a major issue and is still the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S. Every year 715,000 people have a heart attack while another 600,000 die from heart disease, which equates to 25% of all deaths in the country.
These figures may sound daunting, but are presented only to bring attention to this serious nationwide concern. Another number, and the good news for every individual, regardless of their family history, is that 80% of heart attacks and strokes are actually preventable. In order to take charge of your own heart health, you’ll need to become more conscious of your decisions and make some important lifestyle changes, but these benefits will more than pay off in the long term.
Here are some of the top changes you can make to improve your heart health and reduce your chance of heart disease:
- Eat a healthy diet: this should come as no surprise; more specifically:
- Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily
- Consume fiber and whole grains on a regular basis
- Eat fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids (e.g. salmon, tuna, sardine) twice a week
- Dark chocolate is actually heart-healthy, so indulge occasionally
- Significantly limit your intake of trans fats and saturated fats; only 30% of your total calories should come from fats
- Eat at home regularly so you can control what you put in your body
- Exercise regularly: it’s recommended that you moderately exercise at least 30 minutes most days, or average 150 minutes weekly; in addition:
- Park your car further, take the stairs and find excuses to walk more
- Try interval training or other at-home alternatives when you don’t have the time to get to the gym or go for a run
- Monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides: learn the optimal levels for each and get them all checked on a regular basis
- Try to quit or significantly limit smoking and reduce your alcohol intake: two drinks a day for men and one for women are recommended amounts
- Find something that puts your mind at ease (meditation, yoga, a hobby) or makes you laugh, and do it on a regular basis; this will benefit the heart
If you’d like assistance with an exercise program or if you have any other questions about heart health, visit Cleveland Physical Therapy Associates at either of our convenient locations in Shelby or Kings Mountain, NC or call 704-471-0001.