Who thinks it’s a good idea to just blow off Valentine’s Day? I am guessing not many hands will go up for that idea…some might even say that their spouse will kill them if they don’t bring forth at least a sentimental thought. Never mind the flowers, candy or sparkler. Just forget about the day later this week. Well, that probably is what some of us do every day … with our hearts…we just forget about our hearts. And that is why heart attack and stroke are the top two causes of mortality in the United States. So, what do you do to remember of your hearts?
Earlier this decade the American Heart Association came up with seven habits to embrace to help avoid heart attack and stroke. You don’t have to wait until February 14th to start:
- Exercise – there is a new exercise program recommended almost every week, it seems, but the simple fact is that getting your body moving regularly and vigorously supports a healthy heart…and the rest of the body with it.
- Eat right – we all know what the good foods are and what the bad foods are; make a healthy diet your Valentine’s Day resolution.
- Lower blood pressure – you will need a medical provider to give you your actual numbers (not to exceed 12/80), and if your numbers are high stick to the prescription you will be given and follow #1 and #2 along with losing weight and cutting your salt or sugar intake.
- Lower your cholesterol – focus your diet on fruits and vegetables along with fish, nuts and soy; your doctor can tell you if a statin is indicated.
- Manage your blood sugar – sugar is not your friend, so limit its visits to your body in order to keep down your weight and not beat up your pancreas…your heart will thank you.
- Maintain a healthy weight – losing weight should be an outcome of the first 5 instead of a goal in itself, but keeping your weight down lightens the workload for your heart.
- Don’t smoke – smokers have double the risk of a heart attack and triple the risk of a stroke over nonsmokers; it is not just your lungs that suffer if you smoke.
So this list is the short version of a lot of material I have covered in other posts. If you have questions, you can use key words to search the blog for a related post or you can go to the American Heart Association web site. Make February your heart-healthy month!
Charlotte Bishop is an Aging Life Care Advisor, Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Care Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. She also is the co-author of How Do I Know You? A Caregiver’s Lifesaver for Dealing with Dementia.