February is Heart Health Month, a great time to learn more about keeping your heart healthy. Did you know that your eyes can offer a glimpse into your heart health? Studies show that evidence of heart disease can be detected in routine eye exams. In fact, vision problems are sometimes the first or only symptom a person has of a serious cardiovascular condition.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths nationwide are caused by heart disease. It’s also important to know that heart disease doesn’t happen just to older adults. Younger adults are increasingly developing heart disease as well.
The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented with a healthy lifestyle and proper management of health conditions. Here are the most important ways to keep your heart healthy.
- Schedule regular checkups and physicals with your doctor. Regular checkups and health screenings are vital to preventing a wide range of medical conditions, including heart disease.
- Know your blood pressure. About half of people with high blood pressure don’t have it under control, placing them at greater risk for heart disease. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions, such as stroke.
- If you smoke, consider the benefits of quitting. Smoking damages blood vessels and can lead to heart disease.
- Reduce sodium intake. Diet high in sodium, trans-fat, saturated fat, and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.
- Get exercise. Being a couch potato puts you at greater risk for heart disease. Staying physically active helps keep the heart-healthy. Exercise and a healthy diet can help you lose extra weight. Being overweight or obese puts stress on the heart.
- Adopt a healthier diet. Try to fill at least half of your plate at each meal with vegetables and fruits. Try to incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet.
Take this opportunity to help others embrace heart health as well. If you have family members who have heart disease or are at risk for heart disease or have high blood pressure, help them meet the same goals you are setting for yourself.