February is American Heart Month – Take steps to improve your heart health

Just in time for American Heart Month, the American Heart Association has introduced “My Life Check“, a personalized heart score and a custom plan using seven simple steps (the “Simple Seven”) to help you start improving your heart health.

The seven simple steps to live better are:

  1. Stop smoking
  2. Get active
  3. Lose weight
  4. Eat better
  5. Manage blood pressure
  6. Control cholesterol
  7. Reduce blood sugar

Stop smoking: This is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the U.S.

Get active: Acknowledging how tough it is to make time for exercise in our over-scheduled lives, the American Heart Association reminds us that benefits for health are so great it is worth the effort.

Lose weight: Obesity is now recognized as a major risk factor for heart disease and with 145 million of us being overweight or obese it is a concern for many of us. Losing even a modest amount of weight and keeping it off goes a long way to improve our health.

Eat better: A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease according to the American Heart Association. Since there is a lot of conflicting information about these issues it is best to get information from credible sources such as the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, The American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society, to name a few.

Manage blood pressure: High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease according to the American Heart Association. One in three adults has high blood pressure but almost a quarter of them don’t know it and of those being treated, over fifty percent do not have their blood pressure down to goal.

Control cholesterol: Too much cholesterol in the blood is a major risk factor for heart disease. Following some of the steps already mentioned above will help reduce blood cholesterol but many people also need to take medication to get cholesterol down to where it needs to be.

Reduce blood sugar: Diabetes is one of the six major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Adults with Diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes according to the American Heart Association.

Check out the American Heart Association’s My Life Check to get your personalized heart score and custom plan and start taking steps today.

Cindy Farricker, MS, RD, CDE