Love is in the air! February is American Heart Month, and it’s an excellent time to focus on healthy habits you can practice to have a healthy heart.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every 25 seconds someone in the U.S. will have a coronary event and every minute someone will die from one. Heart disease is the leading cause of death, but you can greatly reduce your risk of developing heart disease by practicing several healthy lifestyle habits including exercising regularly, eating healthy, avoiding tobacco use and seeing your healthcare provider for annual checkups.
Regular exercise strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system, lowers your blood pressure, increases your endurance, improves your circulation and can even help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of exercise and can be done by most people, even if you’ve never been active before. Visit Let’s Go Walkin’ Mississippi for information on starting a walking program, where you can walk, and more.
When it comes to eating healthy, choose fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and fat-free or 1 percent dairy products. Limit or avoid fried foods, trans fats (found in cookies, cakes, pastries, fast foods, etc.), whole milk and fatty meats. Some foods, like salmon, almonds, walnuts, beans, oatmeal, spinach and more offer protective benefits for your heart.
Tobacco use is one of the most preventable causes of death and heart disease, and even brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack. The CDC has published an extensive report on the effects of secondhand smoke and how it can affect the heart. If you use tobacco and would like to quit, the “be tobacco-free” section of our website offers helpful information on making that important decision.
Finally, make a date each year with your healthcare provider – and keep it! Regular checkups with your provider can allow you to proactively monitor your health with screenings for your cholesterol, blood pressure and more, which can help you identify any potential health conditions and health risks before they become serious. This can be especially beneficial to those with a family history of heart disease and others who also have a higher risk of developing this condition. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi’s Healthy You! wellness benefit covers an annual wellness visit with a Network Provider at no out-of-pocket cost, which includes these important health screenings. Visit the Healthy You! section of our website for more information.
To learn more about being heart healthy, visit the American Heart Association’s website.