6 Ways to Keep Your Heart Healthy

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The first Friday each February is National Wear Red Day! – A day when we wear red to focus attention onto the staggering fact that heart disease and stroke kill one in three women, yet it’s 80 percent preventable.

To keep your heart healthy:

  • Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect your heart. Beans, other low-fat sources of protein and certain types of fish (such as salmon and mackerel) can also reduce your risk of heart disease. If you decide to drink alcohol, do so in moderation (up to one drink a day for women).
  • Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese can increase a woman’s risk for heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, calculate your body mass index (BMI). BMI numbers 25 and higher are associated with higher blood fats, higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Your waist size is also a simple way to know if you’re overweight (women are overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches). To lose weight, burn more calories than you take in. Cut 500 calories per day from your diet to lose about one pound per week.
  • Move more. Get at least 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week.
  • Stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit.
  • Stick to a sleep schedule. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack and diabetes. Get eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Schedule screenings. Women should get their blood pressure checked at least every two years – their cholesterol measured at least once every five years starting at age 20 if they have risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity or high blood pressure. Since diabetes is a risk factor for developing heart disease, you may want to consider being screened for diabetes.

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