healthy heart

February is American Heart Month, and heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. In fact, it has been estimated as the underlying cause of death for 1 out of 4 deaths in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

Experts at Saint Thomas Health say you’re never too old or too young to make lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease. Dr. Kelly Davis, cardiologist at Saint Thomas Health, recommends the following 6 simple steps to remain heart healthy:

  1. Watch what you eat: The food you eat can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke. Choose foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich whole grains.
  2. Exercise regularly: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine to remain heart healthy. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week. Exercise can be anything that gets your body moving, and it can be as easy as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. For overweight or obese adults with other risk factors such as high blood pressure, a weight loss of 3-5% of body weight can produce clinically significant results against heart disease prevention.
  4. Stop smoking: Being smoke-free can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as cancer and chronic lung disease.
  5. Limit your alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase the chances of a stroke. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Experts recommend no more than two drinks per day.
  6. Manage other health conditions: Manage health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Each of these are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and all can be managed through a healthy diet, physical activity, and in some cases, medication.

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