When I think about February, many celebrations come to mind. Whether it is birthdays, the Super Bowl, or Valentine’s Day, we have something to celebrate. Not only do I think about the heart when someone references Valentine’s Day, but February is Heart Healthy Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CHD), which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.
Below are a few ways to reduce your risk of developing CHD:
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Limit salt intake with no more than 6g a day. Use a low-fat, high fiber diet.
- Be more physically active. Now, researchers recommend getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Remember, regular exercise makes your heart and blood circulatory system more efficient.
- Watch your weight. Work with your doctor on a plan to monitor your weight. Be creative in getting more steps in. Many people take the steps, park further away in a parking lot from the door, bike to work, etc.
- Give up smoking. Smoking is a significant risk factor in developing atherosclerosis (furring of the arteries). Talk to your doctor about getting a patch or using gum to help give up smoking.
- Reduce alcohol consumption. A person isn’t supposed to drink more than 14 units a week. One unit is equivalent to A single measure of spirits (ABV 37.5%); half a pint of average-strength (4%) lager; two-thirds of a 125ml glass of average-strength (12%) wine; half a 175ml glass of average-strength (12%) wine; a third of a 250ml glass of average-strength (12%) wine. Also, remember not to binge drink (consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short time).
- Manage diabetes. Your target blood pressure level should be below 130/80mm, Hg. Drink 6-8 ounces of water. Plain tea, fruit tea, and coffee without added sugar can also be healthy.
So make February a month to celebrate and take action to have a healthy heart.