United Way of Central Florida

7 Ways to Stay Heart Healthy

February is the month of the heart, why? Because it is the time of year we think about loved ones the most. Valentine’s Day isn’t just a day to celebrate your spouse or significant other, but also a time to celebrate all of our loved ones. So we need to make sure that each and every one of us has a strong and healthy heart. Here are some ways to keep your heart healthy,

1. Quit Smoking or Using Tobacco
    We all know that smoking can cause lung cancer, but it also can affect the heart. The chemicals in tobacco can cause irreversible damage to the heart and increase your risk of heart disease. It is never too late to quit.

2. Exercise Daily
    Just 30 minutes a day can help you control your weight, and reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other conditions that affect the heart. Stay active and your heart will too.

3. Eat Healthy
    This one is a no-brainer, but how can you ensure you are eating healthy? Start by eliminating as much saturated and trans fat from your diet as possible. These fats increase the risk of coronary artery disease. Start adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet. And limit your use of alcohol and caffeine. These can both affect your heart.

4. Regular Health Screenings
    Make sure you are seeing your doctor on a regular basis to be checking your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and for diabetes screenings. These are all important to be keeping an eye on, especially if you think they might be high or irregular:

Blood Pressure- Get tested every two years if it is normal.
Cholesterol- Get tested every five years if the levels are normal. Screen more often if levels are high.
Blood Glucose- Get tested every three years starting at age 45.

5. Reduce Stress
    Stress may not be a direct factor in heart disease, but it isn’t healthy for anyone. It is important to remember that you can’t control what others will do. But you can control how you will react in a stressful situation. The best thing to do is remain calm and be positive, but since that isn’t always the easiest thing to do, here are some fun ways to relieve stress,

Go for a walk.

Call up a good friend.

Write in a journal.

Enjoy a warm cup of tea or hot cocoa.

Spend time with your family or pet.

Work in the garden.

Get a massage.

Curl up with a good book.

Listen to music.

Watch a comedy.

6. Stay Well Rested
Getting 8 to 12 hours of sleep has never been more important. Not only does it make you tired and can stress you out, but it could actually lead to an unhealthy heart. In 2008, University of Chicago researchers found that not getting enough sleep could lead to a build up of plaque in the arteries.

7. Know Your Family History
This may not seem very important, but having a direct relative with heart disease can increase your risk tenfold. It can be scary to see how genes play a major role in your heart health. Make sure you inform your doctor of any family history of heart disease. It can help you in the long run.

So make sure you are keeping your heart healthy for yourself, but also for those around you. It is important that you show your loved ones how much you care by keeping healthy.


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