As we know, heart disease is a major issue amongst many in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, it is the number one cause of death for many men and women across the nation. However, the good news is that heart disease can be prevented if people are willing to take proper care of their hearts and health.
The perfect time to do so is February – American Heart Month. This month serves as a great opportunity to raise awareness, find ways to prevent heart disease and have a healthy heart! Read along for some easy ways to prevent heart disease and lead a healthy life in 2020 and beyond.
1. You Are What You Eat
Many times this saying can be true. When you eat healthily, you feel better. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to follow a strict regimen and cut out every delicious thing from your diet. It just means finding the right diet for yourself, which makes you feel good and helps to maintain a healthy heart.
A heart-healthy diet includes controlling your portion sizes, eating more vegetables and fruits, increasing whole grains, limiting unhealthy fats, choosing low-fat protein sources and lowering your sodium intake.
By following a regimented diet, you are also decreasing your chances of getting diabetes. This is because we eat many foods that influence our risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These foods can include highly processed carbohydrates, sugar-sweetened drinks, saturated fats, and red/processed meats. By avoiding or at least cutting down certain foods that contain these, you will already start to see a difference in your overall health.
Whatever the case might be and you want to change up your diet, it’s always good to understand what you are putting into your body as some foods can increase the chances of getting heart disease. So, if you know what you are eating, you’ll always ensure that you eat well – for your heart and health.
2. Get Active
Most adults don’t get the recommended amount of exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s a daily workout routine or simply walking around at work, getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day can really make a difference.
Not only does exercise prevent heart disease, but it also helps in: reducing stress, improving sleep, maintaining weight, increasing energy levels and improving brain function. By staying active, not only is your body staying happy but so is your brain.
It’s important to understand the intensity of your workouts and base them on your current fitness level. If you have suffered from heart disease or have complications, it’s better to talk to your doctor and come up with a workout plan suited to your physical needs.
At the end of it all, it can be difficult to exercise. Sometimes you get lazy and life happens. However, it’s important to always remember to motivate yourself and others around you to exercise in order to prevent any further complications.
3. Cut Down Smoking and Alcohol
Both tobacco and alcohol can have similar effects on the heart. Not only does smoking cause cancer, but according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease – killing more than 800,000 people a year. The chemicals that are found in cigarette smoke can cause the cells lining the blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed. This can narrow blood vessels and cause cardiovascular conditions.
Even though it’s not certain that smokers will develop heart disease from smoking, the best way to prevent it from happening is to quit smoking. It has been proven that those who stop smoking, see improvement with their health within a year.
Similarly, alcohol can have negative effects on your body. Moderate amounts of alcohol don’t prove to be that harmful, but too much can be damaging. For instance, if you drink too much at once that can cause your heart rate to increase a lot. This can be a potential danger, especially for those who suffer from heart conditions.
4. Maintain Your Vitals
Maintaining your heart health means maintaining your vitals too. Two of the most important vitals to look out for in regards to a healthy heart is your blood pressure and pulse.
Your blood vessels can go through a process called atherosclerosis (hardening of your arteries) if your blood pressure gets too high. This condition can lead to many heart diseases. However, according to the American Heart Association, these same heart diseases can also result in low blood pressure. The optimum blood pressure is around 120/80. To maintain optimum blood pressure, studies have shown that exposure to sunlight can help lower it as well as owning a pet and listening to calming music.
A low resting heart rate means that your heart is healthy and that your heart isn’t working as hard to pump blood throughout your body. According to the American Heart Association, the typical resting pulse should be between 60-80 minutes. Some ways to maintain a low resting heart rate are to exercise, reduce stress, laugh more and eat foods that are high in potassium and magnesium.
This American Heart Month, why not enroll in one of the allied health programs at Summit College. You will learn all the skills and techniques that can be used in helping patients with their heart health and their overall well-being.
Summit College’s Allied Health programs will support you as you climb toward a career in Allied Health, one of the fastest-growing industries in the nation. Elevate your career with one of the following Allied Health programs offered at all three locations (El Cajon, Santa Ana and San Bernardino) in California: Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Medical Assistant Administrative & Clinical, Licensed Vocational Nurse.