Every 37 seconds, one person dies from cardiovascular disease in the United States, making it the most prominent cause of death across men, women, and many ethnic groups. With approximately one in every four deaths attributed to heart disease, it’s imperative to maintain a healthy heart.
February marks American Heart Month, a call to action to encourage families to make small health-conscious adjustments to their lifestyles, prompt educators to implement health-oriented curriculum and exercise into daily school routines, and influence practitioners to inform the public about the various preventative actions that everyone can maintain to better their heart health and avert disease.
Although there are many contributing risk factors to heart disease, the cause of heart disease can be controlled by making small, subtle changes to our everyday lifestyle. Jennifer Iacovo, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, a family nurse practitioner with HonorHealth FastMed Urgent Care in Tempe, shares several approaches and healthy heart tips that families can start to prolong and protect their heart’s health and healthy heart tips to prolong your life.
Stay Well Informed
Staying well-informed is ultimately the first step in prolonging and protecting heart health. There are many ways to stay educated which will encourage healthy decisions and improve overall health. One of the most reliable ways is speaking to a healthcare professional. This can be accomplished by reaching out to the local community health clinic for information or speaking to your primary care provider each year during annual checkups.
Sit Less, Move More
Find small ways to become more active. Whether it is going for a walk, taking the stairs, ditching the car for a bike ride or short walk, or doing some extra cleaning around the house, regular physical activity helps lowers blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, and helps regulate blood sugar levels.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
Diet plays a huge role in cardiac health. An unhealthy diet that is high in fat and sodium can result in high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, both of which can increase the risk for stroke and heart attack. When making adjustments to eating habits, make small changes that are practical and sustainable that everyone can keep doing over time, such as planning meals ahead of time, eating on a smaller plate while seated at a table, drinking more water, or buy a healthy-recipe book and cook from it.
Quit Smoking or Better Yet, Never Start
It’s no secret that tobacco use and breathing in secondhand smoke increases the risk for heart disease and heart attack as it damages the heart and blood vessels that lead to the heart.
Lastly, minimizing chronic stress can have a positive impact on the heart’s health. Alleviating stress levels may help lower blood pressure as well as mitigate the forming of behaviors associated with developing heart diseases such as overeating, physical inactivity, and smoking. This can be achieved by aiming for a good work-life balance, getting a good night’s sleep, meditating, and other relaxing activities.
Jennifer Iacovo, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, has been a Family Nurse Practitioner at HonorHealth FastMed Urgent Care for five years and is passionate about educating patients and the community about the importance of heart health. She completed her doctoral scholarly project on improving the effective management of high blood pressure in the urgent care setting. Prior to that, she worked in the ICU at a level one trauma center in Phoenix.