heart health balloon and stethoscope

American Heart Month: How to effectively prevent and manage heart disease

February is American Heart Month: a national awareness campaign where healthcare organizations, advocacy groups, and communities across the country promote awareness about heart disease.

In addition, healthcare providers both local and national aim to promote the best types of preventive care and lifestyle changes that enhance a person’s heart health. Currently, the U.S. is in need of persistent educational and prevention efforts since heart disease rates are significant across the country.

According to the CDC, 610,000 people die of heart disease each year while coronary heart disease alone kills nearly 370,000 people annually. Heart disease is extremely common in the U.S without any signs of slowing down.

However, individuals can manage heart disease risks and ultimately prevent heart disease, by proactively manage health and lifestyle factors. Heart disease usually stems from a lack of self-care, detrimental lifestyle choices, and unhealthy behaviors.

Instant Urgent Care has compiled a list of preventive care behaviors, treatments, and lifestyle changes to keep your heart healthy for American Heart Month!

Get any screenings for high cholesterol and blood pressure!

Did you know that high cholesterol and blood pressure are the most accurate indicators for heart disease?

High cholesterol and high blood pressure are also the most significant risk factors of developing long-term heart disease, but neither situation is evident from common symptoms. These conditions are known as “silent killers” since they gradually lead to significant health complications without noticeable changes in the body.

The best way to evaluate your cholesterol and/or blood pressure is to get a screening at at an urgent care center or with a primary care provider. Screenings can identify if your cholesterol or blood pressure is steady or worsening over certain periods of time.

The results of a screening can also determine if you need to make any significant health or wellness changes to manage your heart disease risks:

Gradually quit smoking and frequent alcohol consumption

Smoking is another significant risk factor for developing heart disease as well as other chronic diseases. Gradually reducing and outright quitting the use of tobacco products can drastically reduce your heart disease risks.

Additionally, lowering your alcohol consumption can also significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.

Quitting frequent substance or drug use can be difficult without the right support systems in place. Ask your primary care provider or a medical expert about services, medications, or programs that can help you quit frequent alcohol or tobacco use. Additionally, community groups and support coalitions also help individuals to quit gradually.

Incorporate a healthy diet and fitness routine into your life

The best way to prevent heart disease is to improve lifestyle factors that help prevent high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and other heart disease risks.

A healthy diet filled with daily recommended servings of fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, and grains can help reduce heart disease risks. A diet that is heart healthy should also limit saturated and trans fat, which both drive higher rates of cholesterol and obesity. Lean meats, fruits, and veggies are key for a heart-healthy diet!

A daily fitness routine, or general exercise, also helps to reduce heart disease risks. The American Heart Association recommends at least getting 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week.

Fitness newcomers can also start with the following activities to gradually build a fitness routine, per the AHA:

  • Brisk walking (at least 2.5 miles per hour)
  • Water aerobics
  • Dancin (ballroom or social)
  • Gardening
  • Tennis (doubles)
  • Biking slower than 10 miles per hour

Creating a healthier lifestyle takes serious time and effort, so don’t worry about seeing dramatic changes yet. Take these steps and risk factors into consideration to strive for a healthier heart!