American Heart Month
Traditionally the month for lovers and all things heart related, February also reminds us to take care of our heart. It is American Heart Month – there's no better time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you need to take now to help your heart.
A presidential proclamation began the annual awareness in 1963 to encourage Americans to join the battle against heart disease. February is American Heart Month. Now over 50 years later, the battle continues.
Genetics do play a role in cardiovascular disease, but they are an uncontrollable factor – fortunately the modifiable risk factors can make a big impact on your life.
Matt Gross, Nurse Practitioner at Monument Health Heart and Vascular Institute, says, “So when it comes to heart disease, over 80% of cardiovascular disease are actually preventable, so we can make huge strides by making some relatively basic things when it comes to treating heart disease, and those basic things are actually widely known by the public.”
Matt says many people know the components of prevention but don’t abide by the recommendations. Ways to stay heart healthy include – controlling blood pressure and cholesterol, eliminating tobacco, treating or preventing diabetes, staying physically active, and managing weight and stress levels.
An annual visit with your primary care physician is a good idea to check your blood labs and physical condition.
Now, when it comes to diet Matt says to limit sugar and processed food but don’t think of it as taking away from your diet, approach it as adding in more fruits and vegetables. When grocery shopping – make sure to plan ahead with a goal in mind.
Matt says, “When it comes to eating well, it’s actually following through on it, so I think some tips are you know, having a plan when you go to the grocery store. Have a list, stick to it – try to avoid purchasing junk because if you have it around you are likely to consume it. Get a buddy that can hold you accountable. Develop a goal.”
Lastly, modify your lifestyle with an emphasis on limiting stress levels by getting more social, putting away technology and meditating.
“Our lifestyle affects are heart which in turn effects how we feel to anything we can do to improve our cardiovascular health is gonna make us feel better and live longer,” says Matt.
The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week to stay heart healthy.