Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One in five deaths is due to heart disease, even though the disease is largely preventable.
Keeping your heart healthy starts with living a heart-healthy lifestyle. But first, you need to get smart about your heart. Knowing what causes heart disease, what puts you at risk for it, and how you can reduce those risks can help you make informed decisions to protect your heart and keep it strong. Below are some tips for a healthier heart.
- Get Active: Regular physical activity, while maintaining your appropriate weight is essential for reducing your risk for heart disease.
- Don’t Smoke: Cigarette smoking is the single most preventable cause of death and disability. Almost 50 million people continue to smoke.
- Eat Healthy: Make healthy food choices. Increase fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products.
- Control Blood Pressure: Frequently check Blood Pressure; try to keep numbers below 120/80. If your numbers are higher, decrease your sodium intake and increase exercise.
- Control Cholesterol: Check your numbers, we strive for a total cholesterol of less than 200. If you see your numbers elevated check with your Primary Care Provider, and watch your intake of full fat dairy, saturated fats, red meats, and processed foods. Be sure to increase physical activity.
- Dental Hygiene: Brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes can help lower the risk for heart disease.
Making lifestyle changes can be daunting. A great place to start is to learn your numbers – BMI, Blood Pressure, Cholesterol and Glucose. Northwest Colorado Health offers free screenings to help clients gauge their heart health and risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These are open to anyone in the community, including businesses.
Based on the results, community members will receive lifestyle recommendations and resources to help prevent heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Clients can continue meeting with Community Health Educators to create a personalized plan to meet health goals such as incorporating movement into everyday life and learning about healthier food options. The goal is to help clients integrate one small habit at a time that is sustainable, knowing that small changes over a lifetime add up to improve health.
It’s also important to know the signs of a heart attack – which can differ between men and women. Common heart attack warning signs include pain or discomfort in the chest, lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting, jaw, neck or back pain, discomfort or pain in arm or shoulder, and shortness of breath. As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort, but women may experience other symptoms that are typically less associated with heart attack, such as shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain. If you experience any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to call 911 even if you aren’t sure it’s a heart attack.
Take the first step towards a healthier heart – make an appointment for a free cardiovascular screening and get to know your numbers. To make an appointment for a free screening or to inquire about offering free screenings to employees at your business, call 970-871-7692 in Craig or 970-871-7694 in Steamboat Springs. Learn more at northwestcoloradohealth.org.