American Heart Month

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American Heart Month: How to Stay Healthy with Good Medical Care

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States for both men and women and often doesn’t come with obvious symptoms. That’s why it’s known as a “silent killer.” So if you want to stay heart healthy, it’s important to be vigilant with heart healthy habits and preventative medical care. Fortunately, the big steps you can take to avoid heart disease are also pretty simple.


Here’s how to stay heart healthy.


Exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults be active for at least 150 minutes per week. That doesn’t mean you need to suddenly start training for a marathon (unless you want to!). But a brisk walk is a great start. Choose activities that you enjoy so you’ll want to do them and won’t mind adding them to your regular routine.


Eat healthy. With temptations all around, it’s easy to reach for the candy bar instead of the carrot stick. But if you want to maintain a healthy heart, you need to be super aware of what you put in your body.  Consider starting a food journal where you can track everything you eat. See what patterns you find and what you might consume too much or too little of. A heart healthy diet includes:

  • A rainbow of fruits and veggies
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy
  • Fiber-rich whole grains
  • Lean meats, poultry and fish


Also make sure to  limit saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, and added sugars.


Maintain a healthy weight. If you want to stay at your current weight, you need to burn the same amount of calories that you consume. Did you know that you naturally burn calories through exercise, but also even by breathing and digesting food. If you want to lose weight, the calories that go out need to be more than what you take in. To gain weight, the opposite is true.


Control your blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association, “Understanding your blood pressure may be the most important thing you can do to protect your heart and your overall health.” High blood pressure can damage arteries and vital organs but often has no symptoms, so it’s important to get it checked routinely. Blood pressure can rise as you age, and is affected by several factors like weight, diet, stress, use of alcohol and tobacco, and exercise, so get it checked right now and track it over time.


Manage your cholesterol. You may have heard of good and bad cholesterol: high-density (“good”) and low-density (“bad”). The good cholesterol, known as HDL, helps keep the bad, known as LDL, from sticking to your artery walls. The higher your LDL cholesterol is, the higher your risk for heart disease. A healthy diet and regular physical activity can help you to reduce your LDL.


Don’t smoke. If you smoke cigarettes, you should quit. Even if you’re a long-time smoker, quitting now will still positively impact your health. When you quit smoking, it has almost immediate effects. As soon as 20 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure and heart rate recover from the spike caused by the cigarette. After one year, your risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half.


Control blood sugar levels. Family history, obesity, diet, and physical activity all impact your blood sugar levels and the chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. If your blood sugar levels are too high due to diabetes or other factors, you are at an increased risk for heart disease. This is something your doctor can test and track over time.


If you’d like a career where you can help guide people as they learn how to be heart healthy, there are several healthcare options for you. Check out the Healthcare programs at Charter College today to see what might be a right fit for you.