February is American Heart Month, an annual national campaign to raise awareness about heart health and urge Americans to lower their risk for heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States but fortunately, there are several ways to lower your risk.
High blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. Other risk factors include a family history of heart disease, diabetes, being overweight or obese, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. Both children and adults can develop high blood pressure, especially if they are overweight or have diabetes.
You can make changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. People who already have heart disease should be especially careful to control risk factors. For example, if you drink alcohol, only drink in moderation. Other ways to lower your risk include the following:
- Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke
- Stay physically active. Engage in aerobic exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week.
- Eat a healthy diet low in salt, sugar, saturated and transfats and high in unsaturated fats (fish, avocado, etc.)
- Maintain a healthy weight