Stay Heart Healthy and Get your Blood Pressure Checked
February is celebrated as American Heart Month, but the truth is a healthy heart is something that should take priority throughout the year.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, and it has been estimated as the underlying cause of death for 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
“You’re never too old or too young to make lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease,” said Greg Renfro, Manager, Aspirus Health & Performance Center in Antigo.
Here are six simple steps Renfro says you can take to remain heart healthy:
1. Watch what you eat: The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich whole grains.
2. Exercise regularly: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine to remain heart healthy. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week. Exercise can be anything that gets your body moving, and it can be as easy as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
3. Stop smoking: Being smoke-free can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as cancer and chronic lung disease.
4. Limit your alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase the chances of a stroke. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Experts recommend no more than two drinks per day.
5. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For overweight or obese adults with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, a weight loss of 3-5% of body weight can produce clinically significant results against heart disease prevention.
6. Manage other health conditions: Manage health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Each of these are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and all can be managed through a healthy diet, physical activity, and in some cases, medication.
Cardiovascular disease strikes more women than men and kills more women that all forms of cancer combined.
According to the AHA, almost two-thirds (64-percent) of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.
AHA recommends you start getting your cholesterol checked at age 20, or earlier, if your family has a history of heart disease. And while you’re at it, be sure to keep an eye on your blood pressure at your next check-up.
“Because high blood pressure is so common, it might be tempting to assume that it’s no big deal. But the truth is, that when left untreated, high blood pressure can put you at risk for potentially life-threatening complications,” said Renfro.
In celebration of American Heart Month, the Aspirus Health and Performance Center will be offering free blood pressure screenings February 1-15, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
These screenings are offered on a walk-in basis at the Aspirus Health and Performance Center located on the Campus of Aspirus Langlade Hospital and Clinic.
“High blood pressure is the No. 1 cause for heart attack and stroke,” adds Renfro.” “The good news is that there’s much you can do to help manage your blood pressure.”