February is Heart Health Month. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States? Heart disease is also one of the most preventable diseases out there. “Living a heart-healthy lifestyle, knowing your family health history and the risk factors for heart disease, having regular check-ups and working with your physician to manage your health are all integral aspects of saving lives from this often silent killer,” according to The Heart Foundation.
According to the American Heart Association, “About 2,300 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day, an average of 1 death every 38 seconds.” While that’s a scary statistic, there are things you can do to prevent heart disease and keep yourself from becoming one of those statistics.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you need to lose weight, speak with your doctor about a plan that makes sense for you. If you’re at a healthy weight now, be sure to maintain the range of that healthy weight as you age.
Buy colorful fruits and vegetables. Seniors should get at least 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. Low in calories, yet high in vitamins, minerals and fiber, fruits and vegetables are an appealing and essential part of a healthy meal. From bright red tomatoes, to green beans, to purple cabbage, the ideal plate has as many shades of the rainbow as you can fit on it.
Avoid buying high fat dairy or meat. Dairy and meat are an important part of your diet, but avoid those high-fat content cuts of meat, and whole milk options in favor of leaner cuts, and lower fat options.
Exercise for a Healthy Heart. Even if it’s a 15 minute walk around the block, or chair cardio, get your heart beating a little faster each day, for optimum heart health.
Avoid smoking – those who still smoke. If you’ve already quit smoking – great. If not, you don’t need us to repeat how unhealthy smoking is, but you do need to create a plan to stop smoking if you want to optimize your heart health. In addition, avoiding second hand smoke as much as possible. Studies have shown that second hand smoke can be almost as dangerous as smoking.
Visit your doctor at least once a year, if not more often. If you’re not asking about your heart health at your annual visits, you should be.