February is a month full of love, sweets, roses, and … heart health! It’s not just a time to celebrate your loved ones; February is a great time to take steps toward improving the health of your heart. Heart disease affects more than 600,000 Americans each year. This can be in the form of coronary artery disease, heart attack, irregular heart rhythm or heart valve disease. However, there are ways you can start taking care of your heart and reduce your risk for heart disease.
You don’t have to give up foods immediately, but you can make small changes in what you eat. We all love snacking, but snacks can add unwanted sugar and sodium. Switch up the bag of chips for healthier options such as apples, berries, whole-grain crackers, rice cakes, nuts, and seeds. If you’re used to grabbing a soda (loaded with sugar), try sparkling water or soymilk instead. For those with a sweet tooth, try a baked apple or bake banana nut bread. Both are delicious and healthier alternatives.
One of the best ways to improve your cardiovascular health is exercise. It doesn’t have to be boring, and we’re not asking you to start CrossFit tomorrow (unless you want to). According to the American Heart Association, they recommend “at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least five days per week for a total of 150 minutes” for overall cardiovascular health. You can walk your dog, ride your bicycle or lightly jog. What matters is finding an exercise activity that you like doing, or finding an exercise buddy to help keep you accountable.
Manage Your Stress
Stress affects your mental health as well as your physical health. It can give you a headache, tighten muscles, and clench your jaw. When you’re stressed, it can cause your breathing to quicken and your heart rate and blood pressure to rise. If you have a history of heart disease, it’s important you learn how to manage your stress. Studies have shown meditation helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.
It’s not easy, but we highly recommend taking those cigarettes to the trash. When you quit smoking, you reduce your risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (a buildup of fatty substances in your arteries), lung cancer, and stroke. If you’re not a smoker, be sure that you avoid other people’s smoke as “second hand” smoke can still cause health issues.
Know the Signs of a Heart Attack
Pay attention to the signs your body is telling you. These are the common symptoms of a heart attack:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Jaw, neck, back pain
- Shortness of breath
If you are experiencing any chest pain, come to our facility. Laredo Emergency Room is located at 7510 McPherson Rd, and we’re open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No appointments necessary. Follow us on Twitter to learn health tips for you and your family!