February is American Heart Month – Wear Red Day is Feb. 3
By James L. Wetzel, MD, Interim Chief Health Officer at Health Partnership Clinic
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women around the world. About 647,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. This accounts for one in every four deaths. The good news is you can reduce your risk of heart disease by making healthy choices and managing your health conditions.
Preventing Heart Disease
To prevent heart disease and help raise awareness of its effects, Health Partnership Clinic is proudly participating in American Heart Month. Clinic staff are bringing awareness by wearing red on Wear Red Day, Friday, Feb. 3. Heart healthy educational information will also be available in the clinic waiting rooms.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several health conditions, your lifestyle, your age and family history can increase your risk of heart disease. About half of all Americans have at least one of three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.
There are several healthy changes that you can make to protect your heart and lower your risk of developing heart disease.
Choose healthy foods and drinks.
Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt in your diet can lower blood pressure. Limiting sugar in your diet can lower your blood sugar level to prevent or help control diabetes. Do not drink too much alcohol which can raise your blood pressure.
Keep a healthy weight.
People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for heart disease. Carrying extra weight can put extra stress on the heart and blood vessels.
Get regular physical activity.
Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The Surgeon General recommends that adults get two hours and thirty minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise. Children and adolescents should get one hour of physical activity every day.
Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk of heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.
It is also important to take charge of your medical conditions. Check your cholesterol, control your blood pressure, manage your diabetes, take your medications as directed and work with your health care team to prevent or treat the medical conditions that lead to heart disease.