INDIANA – February is about more than valentines and candy hearts. It’s also American Heart Month.
Heart health is important, especially in Indiana, where heart disease is the number one cause of death for Hoosiers.
Some risk factors for heart disease are beyond your control, such as age, ethnicity, and family history.
Key risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking, and about half of Americans have at least one of these risk factors.
However, there are things you can do every day to reduce your risk of heart disease, according to Carol Keihn, a Nurse Practitioner with MedExpress Urgent Care.
“Try to cut out some sugar, cut out a little salt. Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables . Just take a walk,” Keihn said. “We definitely need to do better at taking care of our hearts.”
Keeping an eye on your health — and your heart health — also means staying in contact with your doctor.
“You definitely need to stay in contact with your doctor. If you don’t have one, you need to get one. Have regular checkups. Get your bloodwork checked, get your cholesterol and blood pressure checked. Taking care of your body can make a difference,” said Keihn.
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of heart disease, including:
– Check with your doctor to determine your personal risk of heart disease.
– Cut down on foods high in cholesterol, sodium, and sugar.
– Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, and whole grains.
– Exercise three to five times per week.
– Keep a regular sleep schedule and try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
– Limit your caffeine intake.
– Limit your alcohol intake.
– Take steps to control and reduce stress.