Since February is American Heart Month, we wanted to take a moment to discuss some of the factors that impact heart health and give some tips on how to address these factors.
According to the CDC, “about 610,000 people, die from heart disease in the United States every year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.” It’s always important to know the warning signs of a heart attack so you can get yourself, or someone in need, help as soon as possible. These warning signs include:
- Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats
Knowing these warning signs will help prevent deaths from heart attacks, but how can we work to prevent the heart attack from occurring in the first place?
Am I at Risk for Heart Disease?
Knowing if you are at risk for heart disease can help you prioritize your heart health. The 3 main risk factors for Americans are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, as stated by the CDC. 47% of Americans have at least one of these risk factors, making it more imperative than ever to make heart health a priority.
7 Factors that Impact Heart Health
The American Heart Association points to 7 factors that can improve one’s heart health. Addressing these factors together, or even on their own, can help lessen the risk of heart disease. These factors, or “Life’s Simple 7” as The American Heart Association puts it, are:
- Manage blood pressure
- Control cholesterol
- Get active
- Reduce blood sugar
- Eat better
- Stop smoking
- Lose weight
So How Do I Actually Make Changes to My Lifestyle?
There are many ways to work towards addressing these 7 factors. For example, The Mayo Clinic offers ways to reduce one’s blood pressure, including: losing extra pounds, exercising regularly, eating healthier, reducing the amount of sodium in your diet, limiting the amount of alcohol you drink, quitting smoking, cutting back on caffeine, reducing stress, monitoring your blood pressure at home, and getting support. If you take steps to reduce your blood pressure, you will simultaneously be addressing some of the other factors as well.
For more resources and information on improving your heart health, check out these articles:
- Top 5 lifestyle changes to improve your cholesterol
- Get Moving: Easy Tips to Get Active!
- Diabetes management: How lifestyle, daily routine affect blood sugar
- Guide for quitting smoking
There is no better day than today to start living a healthier life. Changing your whole lifestyle at once can be hard, so start by addressing the factor that is easiest for you to accomplish and then move on to the others. Just one step can get you closer to better heart health!