February 4, 2014
February is recognized as American Heart Health Month, and given some sobering stats, it would seem that we could use the focus on awareness. According to the CDC, nearly three quarters of a million Americans suffer a heart attack each year and 600,000 die from heart-related diseases.
Fortunately, these statistics are largely preventable. Here are five simple ways to cut your risk of heart disease. Start in February and keep going all year long!
1. Maintain a Healthy Weight
If your Body Mass Index is 25 or higher, you’re at an increased risk for heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. Simply put, the heavier you are, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood. Cutting your weight by just 10% can have profound effects on your cholesterol and blood pressure levels, making your heart far happier than it’s ever been before!
2. Walk 30 Minutes a Day
Walking is a great way to keep your heart healthy. The American Heart Association reports that walking just 30 minutes a day not only reduces your risk of coronary heart disease, but also helps your mental well-being, allows you to better maintain a healthy weight and improves your blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
3. Watch What You Eat
Cut out the greasy chips and sweets and snack instead on fruits, nuts and vegetables. Almonds are especially good for your heart, as are asparagus and sweet potatoes, all of which can actually help repair cell damage to your most vital organ. Foods high in omega-3 fats such as fish, beans and wild rice are fabulous inclusions in a heart-healthy diet too.
4. Banish Your Vices
The Mayo Clinic says a glass of red wine is good for your heart, but imbibing too often can have serious consequences. Be mindful of your alcohol intake.
And if you smoke, now is the time to quit. People who light up are two to four times more likely to suffer from heart disease later in life than a nonsmoker.
5. Get Regular Heart Screenings
Regular heart health checkups are crucial. Cardiovascular screening should begin at age 20 and continue throughout your life based on age and risk factors. These tests are simple and noninvasive, consisting of blood pressure checks, cholesterol and triglyceride readings, blood glucose tests and weight tracking. For many people, the first sign of heart disease is a heart attack. It doesn’t have to be – regular screenings can diagnose a problem early and help you take steps to mitigate the damage.
Heart health is critical to your very existence, and screenings are included under all Affordable Care Act plans regardless of the level of coverage you select. You cannot be turned down for a pre-existing condition. And if you need help paying for insurance, subsidies may be available to you.
We know that the new healthcare laws can be difficult to decipher and choosing a plan is daunting. That’s why we’re here to help. With 11 insurers and a vast number of resources, Terpening will work with you to make sure your heart (and your pocketbook) stays healthy all year long.