Did you know February is American Heart Month? In the US alone, about 500,000 open heart surgeries are performed each year. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in both men and women in our country. This month and all year long, our physicians encourage implementing daily practices that help create a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Check in with your diet. Making minor changes in your diet can impact your long-term health. Your diet is the best tool to use in the fight against heart disease. Even if you are in great shape currently and experiencing no heart issues, a healthy diet is the best preventative measure you can take. Implementing a diet with plenty of fruits and veggies, lean proteins like chicken or fish, whole grains, beans and legumes, and low-fat dairy products, can lead to a healthier heart.
Get regular cardiovascular exercise. Exercise of any kind is beneficial for your heart health, but cardiovascular exercise is most beneficial. “If you are nervous about starting to exercise, I recommend to patients to start a walking program where I tell them to walk 15 minutes away from their home and then turn around and walk back,” says Dr. Desiree D’Angelo. “Do this each day, trying to go a little farther in those first 15 minutes each day. It is an easy way to start to get your heart pumping.” Always consult your physician before starting a new exercise program.
See your primary care physician for regular checkups. Being on top of what’s going on with your health is the best thing you can do to combat any sort of illness. By going to your annual physical appointments and getting routine blood work, your doctor will be able to advise you of any changes you may need to make. “I recommend seeing your primary care physician for yearly exams and getting routine lab work to make sure their blood pressure and cholesterol are within normal level,” says Dr. D’Angelo.
Drink plenty of water. “Find a plain water that has a high mineral content. Most of the water we buy in bottles has been purified, which usually means all the electrolytes have been removed. So, it’s best to look for electrolyte water to ensure maximum hydration.
Ditch the cigarettes or vapes. Smoking is detrimental to your health and should be avoided at all costs. Throw away the cigarettes, cigars, vaping pens, etc. Smoking can destroy your heart, lungs, esophagus and can become a very deadly habit.
Know your family history. If heart diseases run in your family, you should be aware and discuss it with your physician. Starting prevention early is a great way to combat bad genetics. Developing healthy habits can go a long way!
Know the symptoms of a heart attack. Substernal chest pain, like the feeling of someone crushing you, pain in your left arm, pain in your jaw, shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting, or fatigue could be a sign of a heart attack. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, dial 9-1-1 immediately.
For more information on American Heart Month and tips on living a heart-healthy lifestyle, click here.