February is American Heart Month! Your heart is arguably the most important organ in your body, but some aspects of your lifestyle may be hurting your heart and taking years off your life. Below are some tips from the American Heart Association on how to live a heart healthy life.
- Use up at least as many calories as you take in
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week
- Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups
- Eat fish at least twice a week
- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin
- Select fat-free, 1 percent fat, and low-fat dairy products o Unrefined whole-grain foods contain fiber that can help lower your blood cholesterol and help you feel full
- Vegetables and fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber — and they’re low in calories
- Eat less nutrient-poor foods
- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your dietCut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol
- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars
- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt
- Keep an eye on your portion sizes
- Drink in moderation
- Don’t smoke tobacco — and stay away from tobacco smoke
Recognizing the signs of a problem is almost as important as preventing heart disease.
- Major warning signs
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
- Shortness of breath
- About 47% of sudden cardiac deaths occur outside a hospital. This suggests that many people with heart disease don’t act on early warning signs.
- In a 2005 survey, only 27% of respondents were aware of all major symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 when someone was having a heart attack.
Living a heart healthy life can make you feel better, live longer, and avoid disease. Our hearts keep us going day in and day out, so do your part to keep yours healthy and strong.