Take care of your heart and your health with these quick tips
The American College for Medical Careers wishes to promote heart health during February’s American Heart Month. Did you know heart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women? Heart health is something that everyone should take seriously. Here are some tips to take care of your heart.
1. Annual checkups
If you feel healthy, you might think you don't need to see your doctor for a checkup. But even healthy-looking people can have undetected heart-related issues. This is why it’s important to get a checkup every year. Your doctor can test you for high blood pressure and high cholesterol to help determine whether you may have heart issues. Your annual checkup also serves as a baseline for any health changes that may arise in the future.
2. Know the warning signs
If you or a loved one is having a heart attack, every minute counts. You’ve got to call 9-1-1 to get medical help right away. Time can be wasted if you don’t know that you are having a heart attack. For this reason, it’s critical that you know the warning signs. Use the American Heart Association’s Catch the Signs Early list to learn these important signs. Make sure you memorize these signs in case you or a loved one ever experiences them.
3. Reduce your stress
Stress may not be visible to the eye, but it is a definitive risk factor for heart attack and heart disease. Do your heart a favor and find a way to manage your stress. Whether it is meditation, going to the gym, watching your favorite show, listening to music, or just relaxing at home, be sure to find a way to get the stress out of your life.
4. Exercise is key
Your heart is a muscle that needs to be exercised by getting regular cardio workouts. If you are out of shape, make sure to talk to your doctor about how to slowly ramp up to a safe exercise routine. If you are already in shape, then keep it up! The American Heart Association’s recommendation is 3 to 5 hours of moderate-level exercise per week. If you need inspiration, try these exercise tips.
5. Eat a heart-healthy diet
A heart-healthy diet means avoiding the doughnuts, potato chips, bacon, and triple cheeseburgers. You should eat lots of vegetables from every color group, choose whole grains instead of processed grains, eat less fatty meat, control your portion sizes, and avoid too much sugar and sodium. If you think this sounds too challenging, try the American Heart Association’s Eat Smart website for some great suggestions.
6. Work toward a healthy BMI (body mass index)
Your body mass index (BMI) is your weight-to-height ratio. Use the American Heart Association’s free Body Mass Index calculator to see where your BMI falls. If your BMI is too high, you might want to try to lose weight, since being overweight can contribute to heart problems. If you are overweight, be sure to ask your doctor about getting started on a safe program for losing weight in a healthy way.
7. Quit smoking and limit your alcohol
Smoking is bad for your lungs as well as your heart. If you smoke, quitting smoking can be one of the best things you can do for your health. Talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation program or try the American Lung Association’s Stop Smoking website. Too much alcohol can also be bad for your heart health, and can contribute to diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease. The recommended limit is two drinks per day for men, and one drink per day for women. If you are a heavy drinker, talk to your doctor about a safe way to stop.
8. Take your meds as directed
If your doctor prescribes you any medication, such as cholesterol-lowering drugs or blood pressure medication, be sure to take it as directed. Your doctor wants to help you lower your risk of heart disease, but it will only work if you follow your doctor’s instructions.
This advice was compiled from the guidance on the American Heart Association’s healthy living webpages. We hope these tips get you started toward a more heart-healthy lifestyle. You will be glad you did it!
The American College for Medical Careers, located in Orlando, FL, offers career training programs for people interested in medical careers. Fill out our online form to learn more about enrolling at ACMC.