As the month that gives us Valentine’s Day, when images of hearts become ubiquitous, it is fitting that February is also American Heart Month—an opportunity for all of us to learn more about how to keep this critical organ healthy. And, judging from the statistics, we better do so in a hurry! As the official declaration for American Heart Month states, “Cardiovascular disease—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is responsible for one out of every three deaths [in this country]. It is the Number 1 killer of American women and men, and it is a leading cause of serious illness and disability.”
OK, that’s the really, really bad news. The really, really good news is that we can all take important steps to help prevent us from becoming victims of cardiovascular disease. To get started, let’s take a look at the leading risk factors for developing heart problems:
- Tobacco Use
- Insufficient Physical Activity
- Inappropriate Diet
- High Blood Pressure
- Unhealthy Blood Cholesterol
Now that we know the leading risks, let’s discuss how to go about dealing with them.
First things first: We all know that smoking is a dangerous habit, so if you haven’t started smoking, DON’T! If you do smoke, consider yourself lucky to be living in a time in which there are the best options ever available for helping you quit. Talk to your doctor about the most appropriate strategy for you.
Regarding the last four risks on the list (Items 4 through 7), the silver lining is the fact that they can all be largely dealt with by tackling Items 2 and 3. So let’s take a closer look at those.
Item 2: I think you’ve already guessed the treatment for this risk factor: Exercise regularly! Routine physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, lower your blood pressure, tame unhealthy cholesterol, and help manage or even reverse Type 2 diabetes. Specifically, the U.S. Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. If you’re not regularly engaging in exercise already, now is the time to start. Take a look at some of our prior blogs on the subject to give you a head start.
Item 3: OK, I think you’ve probably guessed the answer to dealing with this risk factor too: Eat right! You probably know the bare basics already, even if you don’t strictly abide by them: Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoid significant quantities of saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, sugar, and highly processed food of any kind. If you’re doing this on your own already, then congratulations! If you’re not, we at California Chef can definitely help you. We not only know how to prepare healthy meals but how to make them delicious—so they feel like a treat, not a chore! And, like exercise, a proper diet can help you achieve and keep an ideal weight, lower your blood pressure, improve your cholesterol numbers, and manage or reverse Type 2 diabetes. Eating properly is also a crucial factor in managing Type 1 diabetes.
We at California Chef have helped hundreds of our clients with these conditions and others. So if you’d like us to help you get on the road to better heart health, click here to learn about our meal options and pricing and get started!
And whether you enlist our help or not, please get serious about your cardiovascular health. I put this primer together in hopes of getting your attention, but this is really just a start. Go to the Center for Disease Control’s site or the American Heart Association’s site to learn more, and if you’re 40 or over, or think you’re at risk for heart disease, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your doctor to get checked out—You’ll heart yourself for doing so!