By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: February 21, 2023
“The time is always right to do what is right.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dear Red Hot Mamas,
I hope that your February has been filled with lots of love and sweet surprises. February is the shortest month of the year, but it is also a month dedicated to raising awareness and support for many meaningful causes including our heart health.
February has been designated as heart health month. This helps us to bring to our attention the importance of taking care of our cardiovascular health.
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. But we can do a lot to protect our heart and stay healthy.
Some of the ways we can take care of our heart is by understanding our risks, practicing self-care, exercise regularly, making healthy eating choices, getting enough quality sleep, and taking preventive measures to lower the risk of developing heart disease.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/american-heart-month):
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing one in four deaths each year.
- Research shows that stress can make us more likely to get heart disease and have a heart attack.
- Risk factors, such as high blood pressure, increase your chance of developing heart disease. The more risks you have, the higher your overall risk.
Here are some ways which may help to improve your health and lower your risk of developing heart disease:
Know Your Numbers
- Your blood pressure, your cholesterol numbers—all of which can impact your heart health—and share this information with your doctor. Also, it is important to keep track of how much you exercise.
Aim For a Healthy Weight
- A healthy weight for adults is generally a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9. The online BMI calculator will help you measure your BMI.
- Being overweight is hard on your heart. It increases your risk of having heart disease, a stroke, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Eat Healthy Foods
Foods to eat:
- Vegetables – leafy greens (spinach, kale), broccoli, carrots
- Fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, pears, grapes
- Whole grains – oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-grain bread
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy – milk, cheese, or yogurt
- Protein-rich foods:
- Lean meats
- Nuts, seeds, soy products
- Legumes -kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans
- Oils and foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:
- Canola, corn, olive, safflower, sesame, sunflower, and soybean oils (not coconut or palm oil)
- Nuts such as walnuts, almonds
- Seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, or flax)
Limit These Items:
- Sodium (salt)
- Saturated fat
- Added sugars and alcohol
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that each week, adults get at least:
- 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) to 300 minutes (5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or
- 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or
- A combination of both moderate-intensity and vigorous-intensity activity.
- Aerobic exercise is any exercise in which your heart beats faster and you use more oxygen (brisk walking, running, biking, and swimming.)
Get Enough Sleep
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends adults 18 years or older get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Over time, not getting enough quality sleep, called sleep deficiency, can raise your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Research suggests that stress can contribute to triggering a heart attack or angina and other heart disease risk factors such as high blood pressure. Some ways to help you manage stress include:
- Practicing meditation and relaxation techniques
- Being physically active
- Talking to a professional counselor, family members, friends and joining a support group.
Smoking may raise your risk of heart disease, heart attack and worsen heart disease risk factors. Quitting is hard, but many people have succeeded. Ask your family and friends for support in your effort. Or consider joining a support group which helps people to quit smoking.
For free help you can call the National Cancer Institute’s Smoking Quitline at:
Good Health to You All,