Have You Had a Change of Heart? A fitting and timely question as we journey through this month of love. February is American Heart Month and also a great time to remind you to love yourself from the inside out!
Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and being aware of this troubling statistic is vital in understanding why it is so important to take care of our hearts. According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke combined) kills more than 2,300 people every day. It is also the number 1 killer in women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year; approximately one woman every minute. Usually, women aren’t even aware there is an issue with their hearts. The promising news is heart disease, in most cases, can be prevented.
Did You Know? 83% of Americans believe heart attacks can be prevented but are not motivated to do the work.
Prevention starts with a change of heart! Make a conscious effort to make necessary lifestyle changes and healthy choices and take control of your heart health.
Know Your Numbers- This one is so simple! Make an appointment with a primary care physician for a wellness check-up. During this visit, you’ll be provided important numbers and an explanation of what each means to your heart health; you’ll be given good baseline numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and blood sugar. Your physician will also discuss any risk factors that need to be considered. This visit will also help determine what changes or actions you need to take.
Move More- Start simple with activities like taking the stairs instead of the elevator! Any activity is better than none. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of activity a week, that’s about 20 minutes a day! Don’t sweat the numbers though, just move! Being active is important to overall health and wellbeing.
Eat Smart- This is a big one. What is on your plate? Eating smart doesn’t mean dieting or giving up favorite foods. Fuel your body with nutrient-rich food that is lower in fat, added sugar, and salt. Add a pop of color to the plate and focus on plant-based foods. Also aim to eat foods lower in fat, added sugar, and salt.
Kick The Habit- This one can be hard but it could save your life! The risk for heart attack and stroke is higher in people who smoke. Quitting is not easy BUT it is doable. It is a decision that will improve your health and add years to your life.
Answering the “question” means taking initiative daily by making the lifestyle changes and healthier choices of knowing your heart numbers, exercising and eating smart. Also, make sure to get enough rest and relax a bit.
It is never too early to ask yourself the question-Have You Had a Change of Heart?
Cara Permenter, M.D., is a family medicine physician practicing at CHRISTUS Primary Care Partners-Shreveport. Dr. Permenter is board certified by the American Board of Family Medicine. She is dedicated to the wellness of the family unit, providing same-day sick visits, immunizations, sports physicals, adult annual exams, women’s health exams and managing chronic illnesses.