Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The best way to prevent heart disease is to lower your risk by living a healthy lifestyle. Not sure where to begin? We have simplified five healthy habits to help you live a better life. Another good habit is to see your primary care provider (PCP) for a checkup every year.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can seem overwhelming. Breaking it down into specific habits can make it easier.
1. Eat a healthy diet. A poor diet can lead to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and foods high in fiber. Choose foodsthat are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Be food smart as packaging may say “low fat” or “low sodium” but the manufacturer may be comparing that food to a super high fat or sodium product. Read the nutrition facts food label as it will give you the most accurate information.
2. Exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic physical activity a day, five days a week.
3. Watch your weight. If you are unsure if you are at a healthy weight, see your PCP. If you do need to lose weight, go slowly and aim to lose ½ to 1 lb. a week.
4. Don’t smoke. Smoking greatly increases your risk of heart disease. Quitting will lower your risk. Keep your home smoke-free as secondhand smoke is dangerous too. See your PCP if you need help quitting.
5. Limit alcohol. Alcohol increases your blood pressure.
Know Your Risk Factors
The key risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high LDL (also known as ‘bad’) cholesterol and smoking. Almost half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.
Establish a relationship with your PCP so you can:
· Have your cholesterol levels checked. Cholesterol deposits can accumulate in the arteries which causes the arteries to harden and narrow.
· Learn your body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measurement that shows the amount of fat in your body based on your weight and height.
· Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure has no symptoms, but its effects are very serious. High blood pressure puts added stress and force on the artery walls.
· Properly manage any chronic condition. Your PCP may prescribe medication to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Be sure to follow instructions carefully. If you don’t understand something—test results, medication, etc.—ask your PCP. They want you to be healthy too.
You do not need to come into the Health and Welfare Office for every change. Open Enrollment forms and election forms may be mailed to the office. If documentation is required, however, (e.g., birth certificate, social security cards, proof of other coverage) you may need to supply those documents directly to the office for authentication purposes.