February is American Heart Month. Here are some important tips to keep your heart healthy or to control any existing heart problems:
If you (or someone you care for) has heart disease make sure you know:
- What type of heart disease do you have?
- Make sure you understand your diagnosis i.e. if the blood vessels in your heart are blocked, this could lead to a heart attack.
- What medications are involved? Do those medications have any side effects? Do you feel as though the medication helps you? How so?
To prevent the onset of heart disease (or prevent it from getting worse):
- Be willing to have a discussion with your care manager to determine if you are at a healthy weight, if you exercise, and/or if you smoke.
- Learn about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight/diet. Provide access and information to support groups; communicate openly with the person’s doctor to provide all vital details; Be sure to follow-up consistently in an effort to manage progress or regression.
- Monitor your blood pressure. Blood pressure that’s too high (or more rarely too low) is associated with heart and circulatory issues. You probably won’t experience any symptoms of high blood pressure. This is why it’s essential to have your blood pressure checked every two years. If you’re concerned about your heart or circulation, make sure to discuss your concerns with your doctor and care manager.
- Improve your diet. A healthy diet doesn’t have to be time-consuming or bland. There are plenty of tasty, natural foods that will support your heart health. Rather than trying to make drastic changes which may be hard to sustain in the long term, add a few heart-healthy foods to your daily intake and cut down a little on less healthy options. Processed carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats can impact your cardiovascular health, so look for ways you can reduce these. Instead, choose foods with healthier fats. Examples include oily fish, nuts, flaxseed, olives, and avocados. Make sure your diet is balanced and contains lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Get active – when it comes to cardiovascular health, exercise is crucial. You don’t have to become a gym fanatic to enjoy the benefits of a healthy cardiovascular system. Just make sure you take regular exercise — enough to get a little out of breath. Exercise and cardiovascular health are inextricably linked; the AHA (American Heart Association) recommends around 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That’s a half-hour walk or other moderate activity five days per week.