7 Ways to Love Your Heart
Love is in the air, and pink and red heart symbols are all around…so it’s fitting that February is American Heart Month. Coronary artery disease, stroke and heart failure are all forms of heart disease, the number one killer of both men and women in the U.S.1
We’ve heard that statistic for so long that it can be easy to tune out. But then you’d miss the good news: Heart disease is largely preventable—and it’s never too late to lower your risk.
A great way to help protect yourself? Be proactive: Schedule routine health exams and go over your risks with your doctor. Of course, some risks you can’t change, like your age, race or family health history.
Each risk factor you control or cut out can help lead to better heart health and a longer life. The American Heart Association (AHA) makes healthy changes easier with Life’s Simple 7—a group of tips anyone can do.
Life’s Simple 7: Follow healthy habits for life …
Get active. It doesn’t have to cost a thing…try brisk walking, swimming, cycling, putting in a workout video, shooting some hoops or dancing with your kids.
Eat better. Nutrient-packed foods are a powerful weapon against heart disease. Heart-healthy (and tasty!) choices abound, like low-fat dairy, whole grains, poultry and fish, nuts and legumes, and lots of fruits and veggies.
Lose weight. Extra body fat—and a waist measurement over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men—can up your risk for heart disease. Body mass index (BMI) is a helpful tool to check if you’re at a healthy weight. A high BMI can mean a higher risk for a number of medical conditions.
Stop smoking. No matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting will do your heart, lungs, blood vessels and bones good! For help, visit ASHLine.org, the 24/7 Arizona Smokers’ Helpline that offers free services in English and Spanish.
...and prevent or treat health conditions you have
Manage blood pressure. High blood pressure takes the heart work harder and injures arteries. The “silent killer” can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney disease. It has no signs, so have your blood pressure checked regularly. Ask your doctor how regular exercise and a healthy diet can help lower your blood pressure.
Control cholesterol. High cholesterol causes plaque to build up in your arteries—and as cholesterol levels rise, so does your heart risk. Eating healthy and staying active can help lower your cholesterol level.
Reduce blood sugar. Complications of diabetes can include heart attack and stroke, and over time high levels of blood sugar can add to your risk. Follow your doctor’s advice about medications and healthy food choices.
If you have any of these health issues, you should know and track your health numbers. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds you: Take meds as prescribed, and don’t stop taking them without your doctor’s OK.
© Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona | An Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual’s particular health plan.