Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. Stress, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, smoking and congenital heart defects are all major factors. Heart disease is preventable for most people if you stick to a healthy lifestyle. This February during American Heart Month, let’s get your heart in the best shape by following seven easy tips.
Sacramento County Public Health
encourages families to make healthy choices and engage in managing health conditions. A few small changes can have a big impact on your heart over time!
Be good to yourself – and your heart!
- When you eat, make it count. A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. Start adding healthier items to your diet to create nutrient-dense, heart-healthy meals and decreasing processed or “empty” calorie, nutrient-poor foods and beverages. Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.
- Just the right amount. Even when eating healthy foods, it’s good to manage your portion sizes. Obesity is one of the most common risk factors leading to chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. The good news is that each of us can take steps to reach and/or maintain a healthy weight.
- Spice it up. Ramp up the flavor of foods with herbs and spices instead of blood-pressure-boosting salt and choose foods that contain less sodium.
- You are sweet enough. Many people consume more sugar than they realize. Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars that only contribute calories and zero nutrients.
- Know your risky behaviors. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means for women, no more than one drink per day, and for men, no more than two drinks per day. For your heart, there is no healthy side of using any tobacco or nicotine products and avoid secondhand smoke or vapor.
- Find your groove. We all have to start somewhere. The benefits of regular physical activity are undeniable and any activity is better than nothing. Today is the day you can begin to make your heart a priority by finding your groove – even if it’s just a quick walk around the block or breaking into a dance to a few of your favorite songs.
- The head-heart connection. Stress, depression and anxiety can influence your mood, but they could also influence the health of your heart. Be sure to talk with your health professionals because mental illness is treatable, and recovery is possible. Learn about the County’s Behavioral Health Services.
Public Health Officer Dr. Kasirye, said, “Heart health can be affected by making small changes and sticking with them. During February’s American Heart Month, everyone is encouraged to make a commitment to choosing healthier foods and activities – your heart depends on it.”
County Public Health continuously works to educate the public about the importance of good nutrition and how it can affect health. A part of that work includes the Sacramento County Obesity Prevention Program, which is implemented in schools and community organizations that bring nutrition education and physical activity programs. Public Health is also part of the Design 4 Active Sacramento team, whose goal is to improve public health by shaping the built environment to support walking, biking and other healthy activities.