Most people associate February with Valentine’s Day and Hearts so it is appropriate that February is designated as National Heart Month.
Cardiovascular diseases (heart disease, strokes and high blood pressure) are the #1 killers of men and women in the United States. Here are some tips to keep your ticker in tip-top shape:
See Your Doctor. Get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy. Your healthcare providers may spot things early, before you are symptomatic.
Keep a check on your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can have it checked in your doctor’s office, at most local pharmacies or at home.
Get your cholesterol checked. A cholesterol check is a simple blood test. Even if your cholesterol has been normal, you should have it checked at least once every 5 years. If your levels have been abnormal, your doctor may want to check it more often.
Eat healthy. One of the best things you can do to prevent cardiovascular diseases is to eat a healthy diet. Limiting sodium in your diet can help lower your blood pressure. Fresh fruits and vegetables, foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol should be avoided.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for cardiovascular diseases. Ask your doctor what a healthy weight is for you.
Exercise. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Healthy adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Talk to your doctor to see what types of exercise he recommends for you.
Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you smoke and need some help quitting, your doctor can prescribe medications to assist you.
Avoid alcohol. Too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.
Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, keep your blood sugar levels in check and talk with your doctor about treatment options.
Take your medications. If have been prescribed medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another condition, it is important to follow the directions and take the medications regularly as prescribed. If you have side effects, talk with your doctor to discuss your options.
Doing all of these things can help you and your Valentine live longer, healthier lives.
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