This time of year, with Valentine’s Day approaching, you might associate hearts with romance and red roses. But there are two kinds of hearts—in addition to hosting Valentine’s Day, February also serves as Heart Health Month. Take some time this month to think about the blood-pumping kind of heart and what you can do to keep yours healthy.
Risk factors for heart disease include related health conditions, unhealthy behaviors and hereditary factors. Health conditions that can increase your chances of heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Cigarette smoking and tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol consumption are some behaviors that can adversely affect your heart health. Also, for some people, family health history can predict your risk of heart disease.While you can’t change bad genes or eliminate all risks, there are a few choices you can make to lessen your susceptibility to heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you can engage in a few simple preventive measures to help ward off heart problems.
- Eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables every day. Whole grains and low-fat dairy are also good for you.
- Reduce your consumption of foods high in fat, cholesterol and salt.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Even if you’re busy, try to include at least 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise, such as biking or shoveling snow, into your daily routine.
- Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and, if you have diabetes, manage it as recommended by your doctor.
- Don’t start smoking, or, if you already smoke, consider quitting.
- Recognize the signs of a heart attack, and call 911 immediately if you think that you or someone else is suffering a heart attack. The symptoms of a heart attack typically include the following:
When you know the risks of heart disease and the symptoms of a heart attack, you can help protect your heart for you and your loved ones.