Hearts are everywhere in February. But it’s not just in honor of Valentine’s Day. February is American Heart Month. Why is heart health so important? Because heart disease is the leading cause of death for women (and men) in the United States.
In honor of American Heart Month, our primary care specialists at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, in Hastings and Grand Island, Nebraska, use this blog to share some of their best tips for managing a healthy heart.
A heart-healthy diet is a balanced eating plan that emphasizes nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. Limit your intake of foods that negatively affect your heart, like processed meats, fast food, and high-sugar drinks and snacks.
Your heart is a muscle, and regular workouts keep it strong and efficient. We recommend aiming for 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise — a brisk walk, a bike ride, low-impact aerobics — each week for a healthy heart. That’s 30 minutes, five days a week.
Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease and other chronic diseases that stress the heart (high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol). Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of heart disease and improves your overall well-being.
Smoking cigarettes is bad for your health in so many ways. It damages the heart and blood vessels and raises your blood pressure, putting you at risk of developing heart conditions like coronary artery disease (CAD) or having a heart attack.
Smoking cessation is one of the most important things you can do when it comes to improving heart health.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes are chronic health conditions that put you at risk of developing heart disease. Knowing your risk factors can help you create changes that improve these health conditions and prevent or delay any negative effects they may have on your heart.
You’re also more likely to develop heart disease if it runs in your family.
In addition to your risk factors, you need to know your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. Keeping these health markers within normal limits is good for your heart and your health, whether you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes.
The messaging about alcohol and heart health is mixed. But one thing is certain: Drinking in excess (more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men) increases blood pressure and your risk of heart failure and stroke.
Sleep is vital for health. It’s the part of the day your body spends repairing and regenerating to get ready for the next day. Getting at least seven hours of quality sleep may help you keep your blood pressure within normal limits and make it easier for you to manage your weight.
Stress is a part of life. But many people turn to unhealthy habits in order to cope — drinking more alcohol, smoking cigarettes, eating unhealthy food. How you cope with stress affects heart health. Instead of turning to unhealthy vices, try exercising or meditating to reduce stress.
The best way to stay on top of your heart health, and your overall health, is by making sure you have an annual physical exam. This health visit is the most important of the year because it gives you a chance to see how your health changes from year to year and how your habits influence these changes.
Having an annual physical exam also gives us a chance to find health issues before they turn into problems that lead to chronic diseases. If it’s time for your annual physical exam, schedule an appointment with our primary care providers. We can also do your annual well-woman exam.
Managing a healthy heart requires your active participation, but it’s not something you need to do on your own. Let us help you manage your heart health. Call or request an appointment online today with the primary care team at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC.