Date Published: 1 February 2020
Six tips for a healthier heart
February is American Heart Month1.
"Our Hearts" (on social media #OurHearts) is an initiative to encourage people located across the USA to get involved in heart healthy lifestyles together with their friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. This is being promoted by the (U.S.) National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute [more info]2. Heart health isn't only important in the USA. Everyone can benefit from reminders and encouragement to look after their heart and to enjoy doing so through a healthy lifestyle experienced with friends and family.
To assist those living with high blood pressure ('high blood pressure' = 'hypertension') to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke, the American Medical Association (AMA) has publicized six 'tips' that people can take to improve their heart health. They are:
- Know your blood pressure numbers - visit ManageYourBP.org to better understand your blood pressure numbers and take necessary steps to get your high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, under control. Doing so will reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Commit to a treatment plan to manage high blood pressure - work with your doctor to create an individualized treatment plan that includes healthy lifestyle changes that you can realistically stick to long-term to help you maintain a lower blood pressure and lower your risk for negative health consequences.
- Be more physically active - regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. It is recommended that healthy adults 18 to 65 years of age should get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity activity.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar - making simple dietary changes can help you manage or prevent high blood pressure, including eating less sodium, red meat and processed meats, reducing the amount of packaged, processed foods you consume-especially those with added sodium and sugar, and reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Eat foods that are rich in potassium and add more plant-based foods, such as olive oil, nuts and seeds to your diet.
- Maintain or achieve a healthy weight - take steps to lose weight, if overweight. Being 20 pounds or more overweight could put you at increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
- If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans - up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
The AMA explains on its website that it is committed to improving the health of people in the USA via its efforts to prevent and reduce the burden of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease (which includes heart problems) and type 2 diabetes. This objective was emphasized by the President of the AMA:
" In February, American Heart Month, we encourage all Americans to take control of their heart health by better understanding and monitoring their blood pressure levels and making healthy lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce their risk of serious health consequences associated with high blood pressure," said AMA President Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A.3
" High blood pressure is the nation's leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke, yet an overwhelming number of U.S. adults are living with uncontrolled high blood pressure - placing them at increased risk for both conditions. By empowering more patients to monitor and control their blood pressure, we will continue to improve health outcomes for patients and reduce health care costs."