February is National Heart Month – the perfect time to infuse some heart-healthy tips into your daily life. After all, the heart is the most important muscle in your body, pumping blood and oxygen to all of your vital organs. Throughout an average lifetime, the heart beats more than 2.5 billion times as it carries blood to the rest of the body.
If you aren’t taking good care of your heart, serious problems can develop, hindering blood flow. Unhealthy habits can lead to the buildup of plaque, which can lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.
Educating yourself on the conditions impacting heart health is the first step in keeping your “ticker” tip-top shape.
What You Need to Know About Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy substance your body makes and is derived from your food. A common misperception is that all cholesterol is bad when in fact, it does have some benefits. For example, it helps you make Vitamin D, helps produce certain hormones, and aids in digestion. This good cholesterol is referred to as “high-density lipoprotein” or HDL. If you are male, your HDL should be more than 40 mg/dl, and if you are female, it should be greater than 50 mg/dl. The bad form of cholesterol is known as “low-density lipoprotein” or LDL. The average person, who doesn’t have any risk factors for heart disease, should aim for an LDL of less than 130 mg/dl.
If you have high cholesterol, you most likely will not experience any symptoms, which is why it is essential to get it checked regularly through a simple blood test.
Here are some easy ways to keep cholesterol in check:
- Healthy eating – Strive to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and poultry into your daily diet. You should limit red meat as well as sugary foods and beverages. Maintaining a heart-healthy diet can help you lose weight, which in turn can help you lower cholesterol.
- Exercise – Exercise does the body good! Thirty minutes a day of activity such as brisk walking, biking, or swimming can help you achieve optimal cholesterol numbers.
- Quit smoking – Smoking can lead to various health issues, including high cholesterol. If you smoke, consider quitting.
The Ins and Outs of High Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. If it is high, you may hear it referred to as “hypertension.” However, just like cholesterol, it has no symptoms, and for this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the “silent killer.”
The only way to determine if you have high blood pressure is to test it. If you are experiencing symptoms such as nausea, headaches, back or chest pain, or vomiting, you could be in a “hypertensive crisis” and require medical attention as soon as possible.
A blood pressure reading has two numbers. The top or systolic number tells you the blood flow pressure on your artery walls when your heart is beating and pushing blood to your body. The bottom or diastolic pressure is the bottom number and measures the pressure on your artery walls between heartbeats when your heart is relaxing and refilling with blood.
The ideal blood pressure reading is 120/80. If your numbers reflect anything higher than that, you are at risk or already have hypertension.
Just as there are ways to lower your cholesterol, there are simple steps you can take to control your blood pressure.
In addition to eating right and exercising, it’s also important to manage stress and make sure you’re getting adequate rest. Watching your alcohol intake, limiting salt, and quitting smoking also will help.
Eating for Heart Health
You don’t have to make considerable changes to your lifestyle to see improvements in your overall heart health. Making just a few sustainable modifications will help you make a huge difference. Here are a few keys tips to keep in mind:
- Limit your caloric intake
- Measure your food and stick to suggested serving sizes
- Cut back on red meat, processed foods, and salt
- Integrate a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and lean proteins into your daily diet
- Preparing food at home as opposed to dining out to control sodium, sugar, and fat
Community First ER is here for you
Despite your best efforts, if you or a loved one develops a heart issue, Community First ER will be here for you. No appointment is necessary, and walk-ins are accepted. With both adult and pediatric care available, you will experience little to no wait times to receive our personalized, compassionate, and concierge-level services. Our board-certified physicians and registered nurses will treat you or your loved one like family, making your health and peace of mind a top priority. We are here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
About Community First ER
Emergency health care is a critical resource. Our commitment is to provide a personal, transparent, and concierge-driven emergency health care experience to our community members. Locally owned and operated by health care providers and partners we trust, we strive to support and create meaningful relationships with those around us. We exist to put your health and wellness first. For more information, visit our website at https://communityfirster.com/ and engage with us on social media.