Put a little love in your heart

Morris F. White III, County Extension Director, Vance County
Feb. 24, 2014 @ 09:57 AM

We’ve all had a broken heart before and won a heart over, but now, in the words of Dolly Parton, it’s time to “Put a little love in your heart.” The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year. That’s one in every four deaths.

The heart is small muscle with one huge job! With such an important job, it’s pertinent to take care of your heart and keep it strong. It works hard for you daily, but the big question is, what are you doing to keep your heart healthy?

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. among men and women, but 80-90% of heart disease is preventable!

Make small changes for a healthier quality of life. Check out the following tips provided by the American Heart Association to keep your heart in check:

• Get your yearly check up. Have your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels checked, and ask your doctor to help you reach or maintain a healthy weight.

• Get moving! Working out doesn’t have to be a major event, but it should be at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercises per day. To help meet that requirement you can walk around during your child’s soccer game, take the stairs instead of an escalator, or park further away from your destination. When you see opportunities to move, take advantage!

• Drink more water. Not only is water calorie free and fat free, but your body needs it for many functions. Take a water bottle with you wherever you go and try to get at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day.

• Eat smarter. Replace packages of unhealthy food with raw veggies and fruits in the refrigerator and healthy snacks in pantry. If you grab healthy foods for a minimum of 21 times, smarter choices will become a habit.

• Keep cholesterol in check. Eat foods low in saturated fat and trans fat, such as lean chicken or turkey (roasted or baked, with skin removed), fruits and veggies, low-fat or fat-free dairy products and whole grains. Keep blood sugar or glucose at healthy levels.

• Kick the habit. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible.

• Limit alcohol. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.

• Reduce stress. You’re more likely to have a heart attack on a Monday than any day of the week. Avoid stress. Find enjoyable activities that help you relax.

For more information feel free to contact the Vance County Cooperative Extension office at (252) 438-8188.

 

Sources:

Center for Disease and Prevention: cdc.gov/heartdisease/about.htm

American Heart Association: heart.org/HEARTORG/

WebMd: webmd.com/heart-disease/default.htm

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach: extension.iastate.edu/article/heart-healthy-diet-keeps-your-brain-healthy-too