American Heart Month

by: Ashley Denton, RDN, LD
SCMC Registered Dietitian & Nutritionist

February is American Heart Month. Heart Disease is the number one killer of Americans and while that statistic sounds grim- it’s estimated that about one quarter of deaths that occur in people under age 75, related to heart disease, are PREVENTABLE (and this is likely an underestimate). Preventing the disease in the first place would lead to even greater reductions, not to mention the quality of life improvement. Heart disease and high blood pressure are so common, that it’s easy think that they are a normal part of aging. However, it’s estimated that 80% of heart disease is preventable in the first place, 80%! So, what can you do?

  1. Know Your Numbers: Get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked and talk to your doctor about your results and your risk. Follow your doctor’s advice about cholesterol lowering medications.

  2. Don’t smoke and avoid tobacco products. If you smoke, it’s never too late to quit. 

  3. Aim to maintain a healthy weight. Speak to a Registered Dietitian for guidance. 

  4. Move more. Aim for at least 30 minutes/day of exercise. Be more active throughout your day. Look for opportunities to increase movement during “non-exercise” time and make it part of your daily routine. 

  5. Manage stress. Learn stress management techniques and be sure to get enough sleep.  

  6. Establish a healthful eating pattern. Limit sodium to less than 2000mg/day. Replace saturated fats found in animal products with leaner options and aim to incorporate more unsaturated fats like those found in fish, nuts, and olive oil. Boost fiber in your diet from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

 

Remember small shifts in your habits can make a big difference. Pick one or two areas to focus on and stick with it! There are experts available in each of these areas, don’t go it alone- seek help if you need it.

 

Click here for more information about what your cholesterol values mean.  

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