Taking Action to Protect #OurHearts – Tips for a Heart Healthy Lifestyle

Taking Action to Protect #OurHearts – Tips for a Heart Healthy Lifestyle

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States – 1 in 5 people die from it each year – even though it is largely preventable. Research shows that many Americans will likely develop some form of heart disease, but you don’t have to be one of them. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), you can take action by making small lifestyle changes that help reduce your risk and improve your overall health.

NHLBI’s The Heart Truth® program encourages you to join the #OurHearts movement and take these actions to support a heart-healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat better. Select nutritious snacks. Try whole fruits, dried fruits, unsalted rice cakes, fat-free and low-fat yogurt, or raw vegetables. Use herbs and spices instead of salt.
  • Add more movement to your day. Sit less. Take the stairs. Park a good walking distance away from your destination. March in place, or walk around the block. Anything that gets your heart beating counts!
  • Stop (or don’t start) smoking. Make a list of the reasons you want to quit, select a quit date, and talk to a healthcare provider about resources that can help.
  • Get enough quality sleep. If possible, aim for at least 7–9 hours of sleep each night. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. 
  • Manage stress. Use relaxation techniques that combine breathing and focused attention on pleasing thoughts and images to calm the mind and body.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Discuss with your healthcare provider if your weight is in a healthy range. If you need to lose weight, choose healthy foods, get regular exercise, and consider joining a weight loss program.
  • Control cholesterol. Make healthy food choices, like limiting saturated fats found in fatty cuts of meat, dairy products, and desserts, increase your physical activity, and don’t smoke. 
  • Manage blood sugar. Monitor your carbohydrate intake and choose complex carbohydrates, like whole grains and legumes, to help control blood sugar levels.
  • Control blood pressure. Get your blood pressure checked at each healthcare visit. Ask your provider if you should monitor your blood pressure at home. Knowing your numbers is an important first step to making sure yours are in a healthy range.

Devote a little time each day to your heart. Remember, self-care is heart care. Ask a family member or friend to join you on your heart-health journey. Personal networks make it easier to stick to heart-healthy habits that can help keep #OurHearts healthy for life.

To learn more about how to take action for your heart and prevent heart disease, visit www.hearttruth.gov.

If you need help with achieving any of the recommendations above, talk to your primary care provider for advice. Looking for a primary care provider or wonder why it’s important to have one? Learn more.

Article provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office