LEXINGTON, Ky. — Each February, we recognize American Heart Month, and CHI Saint Joseph Health is encouraging Kentuckians to prioritize a heart-healthy lifestyle by scheduling annual screenings and making knowledgeable choices at home, which can be lifesaving.
“Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death in America,” said Steve Lin, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Cardiology. “But people can take charge of their heart health by making lifestyle changes and staying up to date on screenings to live a long and healthy life.”
Across the US, one person dies every 34 seconds from cardiovascular disease, according to figures from The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Annual screenings are one of the first steps people can take when regaining control of their health and are essential for determining how issues like blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels individually impact them.
“Protecting your heart is critical to staying healthy,” said Dr. Lin. “Eating a heart-healthy diet and staying active are two keys to preventing or managing heart disease.”
Here are a few steps to get on track for better heart health.
Choose fresh fruits and vegetables instead of highly processed snacks since saturated and trans fats can contribute to heart disease. Limit salt and sugar to help control high cholesterol and diabetes. Drink alcohol in moderation to limit risks associated with heart disease; men should have no more than two drinks per day and women no more than one.
Staying active is another crucial aspect of staying heart healthy. People who are overweight have a higher risk of heart disease because the extra weight can put additional stress on the heart and blood vessels. Healthy adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, including brisk walking, biking, swimming and even mowing the lawn.
Don’t smoke. Smoking can damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to cardiovascular disease, including coronary heart disease, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, aneurysms and peripheral artery disease.
Regular screenings can determine your risk level for heart disease. Screenings include blood pressure, cholesterol, body weight and electrocardiogram (ECG). The American Heart Association recommends starting these screenings as early as age 20.
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