Ways to keep your heart healthy

PIKEVILLE - Today, February 1, is National Wear Red Day. This observance was created in 2003 by the American Heart Association (AHA), along with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Every year, on this day, men and women unite together, wear red and commit to fighting heart disease.  According to the AHA, heart disease is the number one killer nationally and globally.

However, monumental strides are being made in fighting this disease.

Unfortunately, many Americans at-risk for heart disease are unaware. This may be due to people not relating simple health basics, such as a healthy diet and physical activity, to good heart health. 

The AHA pinpoints seven key health factors/behaviors that can “keep your heart healthy, lower your risks of heart disease and stroke, and improve your quality of life.”

 â€œLife’s Simple 7” includes:

•Get active

•Eat better

•Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight

•Control cholesterol

•Manage blood pressure

•Reduce blood sugar

•Stop smoking

“Positive adjustments in these key areas can make a significant difference in someone’s heart health,” said Pikeville Medical Center Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Bill Harris.

The first two factors above, being physically active and adhering to a healthy diet, contribute to successfully meeting the third factor of losing weight/maintaining a healthy weight.

Regular exercise may increase the length and quality of one’s life. It is recommended adults complete at least 30 minutes of exercise each day (at least 150 minutes of exercise/week). Children are advised to get 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.

Getting enough physical activity can help burn more calories and reduce one’s weight, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure. Exercise can also help decrease stress and increase mood/energy.

A healthy diet is equally important in the fight against cardiovascular disease. Eating foods low in saturated/trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar – while adding more fiber, lean protein, fruits and vegetables – is a good start to improving the health of your heart.

The AHA offers several tips to improve your diet, including: stocking the kitchen with healthy food, daily tracking of food intake and choosing heart healthy recipes (example: eating fish at least two times a week).

For more information on how to incorporate more physical activity and better nutrition into you daily routine, visit the AHA at http://heart.org.

This is the first story of a series. See Medical Leader’s Feb. 8 edition for the second installment.

Source: American Heart Association