Did you know heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States? It’s true. About 600,000 people will die this year as a result of heart disease, including congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and about 750,000 people will have heart attacks. What’s even more alarming is that many cases of heart disease can be prevented with just a few relatively simple changes in your own behavior.
February is American Heart Month, and that means it’s an ideal time to get started on helping your heart stay healthy. One of the best ways to do that is by adopting ways to lower your blood pressure so it’s easier to maintain a healthy heart rate. Here’s what you can do:
- Quit smoking. No, it’s not easy, but the benefits of quitting cannot be overstated. You can find plenty of resources to help you quit by visiting gov, a website developed by the federal government to provide resources and support.
- Lose weight. About two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, conditions that contribute to heart disease by increasing the stress placed on the heart with each and every beat. Make a commitment to eating healthy and exercising – it doesn’t have to be a major commitment; even small reductions in weight can help.
- Walk more. Being sedentary or inactive is one of the primary causes of many major diseases including heart disease. Just walking a half hour a day can significantly reduce your risk of heart disease.
- Reduce your stress. Stress has a big effect on every aspect of your heart, including heart health. Try yoga, meditation or visualization techniques to help lower your stress, and remember to take deep, relaxing breaths throughout the day.
- See your doctor regularly, especially if you have high blood pressure or demonstrate symptoms of congestive heart failure such as sudden weight gain, rapid or irregular heartbeat or dizziness or fatigue. Regular checkups can also diagnose early signs of congestive heart disease or other types of heart disease so you can take steps to prevent your condition from becoming worse.
Having heart disease can affect other areas of your life as well, and it can cost you much more to maintain your health compared to someone without heart disease. Health care for heart disease-related care accounts for about $1 of every $6 dollars spent on healthcare in the U.S., and that means that, ultimately, there’s more money coming out of your own pocket for doctor visits, hospital care, medications and other related costs.
Having a healthier heart and a healthy heart rate doesn’t mean drastically changing your life. Take that first step today toward adopting the changes listed above, and reduce your own risks of heart disease and heart disease-related death.
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