KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Between Valentine’s Day and Heart Health Month, February is all about heart.
It’s also a time to start giving your heart a break.
According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.
The good news is that small lifestyle changes can make a huge impact.
Choose Healthy Food and Drinks
Kansas City just celebrated the Super Bowl and Fat Tuesday, both times of indulgence.
Health experts say that by choosing healthier meals and snacks, anyone can help prevent heart disease.
The easiest way to do this is by reaching for fresh fruits and vegetables and pass on processed foods. Eating foods high in fiber and low in saturated and trans fats also help, Dr. Lee Norman, Chief Medical Officer of Optum – Kansas City and the former Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary, says.
He also warns adults who choose to drink alcohol should considering limiting it to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
Maintain a Health Weight
The battle of the bulge always seems to be a weighty issue.
Dr. Norman says there’s a reason. The CDC warns people who are overweight or suffer from obesity have a higher risk for heart disease.
Norman and other health experts say maintaining a healthy weight is key.
Maintaining that healthy weight is easier if you’re active. It also lowers blood pressure, sugar levels. and cholesterol, according to experts.
Doctors recommend 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity every week. Teenagers and children should get an hour of physical activity a day.
If you don’t normally exercise, talk with your doctor about the best way to increase your activity level.
Seriously. Put out the cigarette and stop using tobacco.
Smoking and/or chewing can increase your risk of developing heart disease and other serious illnesses.
If you smoke, consult a doctor for options that may help you quit.
Get in Control
It’s time to take charge of your medical conditions according to Dr. Norman and Optum Health.
Experts say ignoring health issues won’t help you in the long run. While it may be scary, knowing is better than ignoring.
Talk with your doctor about steps to help lower your rick of heart disease.
Dr. Norman also says it’s important to be screened for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. If you take medication to treat any of these diseases, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Never change your medications without talking to your doctor.
Get Good Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to your overall health.
More than 1 in 3 Americans say they do not get the recommended amount of sleep, which is for most healthy adults is at least 7 hours each night, according to Dr. Norman.
A lack of sleep is associated with health problems such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and obesity, all of which can raise your risk of heart disease.
Norman suggests sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoid eating or drinking a few hours before bed and get enough physical activity during the day.