February is an important month for the heart and not just because of Valentine’s Day. February is national heart health month, and awareness is key to prevent heart disease and other cardiovascular illnesses. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Approximately 647,000 Americans die from heart disease every year.
To help fight back against heart disease, Spectrum Health is hosting a heart health event from 5 PM to 7:30 PM on Wednesday, February 19, at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids. The event will feature a panel discussion of cardiologists and oncologists.
Major factors that contribute to heart disease include high blood pressure, diabetes, stress, smoking, and high cholesterol levels. But the good news is that up to 80% of heart disease cases are preventable. To help you keep your heart in good shape, here are a few tips you can use to improve your heart health this February:
- Drink more water. Chronic dehydration has been called the hidden epidemic in the United States. Approximately 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Water is essential to keeping your body functioning properly, including your heart. Aim to drink about 80 ounces of water per day. Carry a reusable water bottle with you to make this an easier goal.
- Exercise regularly. Up to 28% of Americans are physically inactive and 67% of people with gym memberships never use them. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise per day or 150 minutes per week to keep your heart and body in good shape. Create a fitness routine to incorporate more exercise into your daily schedule or consider participating in a group sport to give yourself more accountability. Up to 19.6% of Americans under 40 participate in water sports and other sports activities.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. By eating more fruits and vegetables with each meal, you can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Incorporate vegetables into your smoothies at breakfast or into your pasta at dinner. Add an apple, pear, or peach to your work lunch. You can increase your daily intake of vitamins and nutrients just by making small changes to your diet.
- See your doctor regularly. Urgent care centers are great for non-life threatening injuries and infections. But a primary care physician is essential to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle that works for you. Not everyone has the same risk factors when it comes to heart disease, so having a primary care physician who knows your medical history can put you on the right track for a better quality life. What’s more, your PCP can regularly conduct screening tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, and coronary artery disease during your regular visits to help take preventative measures against heart disease.
- Get more sleep. Poor sleep increases your stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones increase your body’s production of glucose, which contributes to diabetes and high blood pressure. That being said, make sure to get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night to keep your stress hormones under control.
Your heart health is crucial to living a happier, healthier, and longer life. By following the tips above, you can get yourself headed in the right direction toward a healthier heart