As we approach the end of American Heart Month, ask yourself a simple question: “What have I done to improve my heart health this month?”
Hopefully, you can list off 5-10 actions you took in honor of cupid’s month for those in your circle who actually like having you around. But if you haven’t had your chance to do that yet, let’s go down the list of factors that have the greatest impact on your heart health and come up with a quick minute solution for each!
- Cholesterol -- this one is so controversial, we’re going to skip it for now, stay tuned, though…
- Smoking -- When it comes to any single action, this one has the greatest impact on your heart health besides lowering cholesterol. Within ONE year of tobacco cessation, your risk for heart disease goes down by 50%--and over the next 15 years, it approaches those who have never smoked in their entire life. So get on it already! Take a look at your kid, you mom or dad, your wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend, and just ask yourself, what you are doing here with this cigarette business? Get your doctor’s help in quitting, it’s much easier now than it used to be!
- Stress -- Is it a surprise that stress is going to KILL YOU? Every health problem that exists is exacerbated by stress. In fact, with enough stress, it is believed that you can make yourself severely ill. So why are you stressing? Is it worth it? Is it the job? Find another one! Is it the drive? Move closer! Is it a friend or loved one? Learn how to create barriers around your sanity. When you simply can’t get away from it, ask your doctor stress reduction techniques. Five minutes of meditation a day can make the difference in your life! Exercise releases endorphins after about 20 minutes and these help quench anxiety. Just don’t let stress eat away at you without creating a light at the end of the tunnel.
- Diet -- You can’t eat the way modern SOCIETY wants you to eat and maintain wellness. Is FAST FOOD ever anything other than pure toxic waste inside your body? Then why is it that we have scantily clad celebrities and superstars urging you to stuff your face or get it all over the place? THINK people! Especially our youth, don’t get sucked into what everyone else is doing because we have a rising degree of disease spawning from unhealthy diets. What’s the key? Stock up on FRESH fruits and vegetables and get rid of all the bad stuff at home. Why should even ONE bag of chips be sold at the supermarket except during superbowl week?
- Exercise -- So let me guess, you have “no time” for exercise right? I refuse to accept this common “excuse”. We have 24 hours in a day. After dedicating 8 hours to sleep and 8 to some form of productivity (be it school, work, childcare, etc), there are 8 hours that we can dedicate to our preferred activities. Now if you are working 10 hours a day, no breaks, and have a 2 hour drive, that leaves you with only 4 hours to partake in personal activities. That’s starting to be unhealthy. Start by parking your car farther, go for a walk at lunch, plan a weekend hike with family. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit in the exercise realm, you just have to be in tune with it and make time!
Remember that the majority of heart disease IS preventable. We are doing a GREAT job for those above age 65 because these folks are often “plugged in” to the health system. However, due to the incredible increase in disease burden (1-5 above), younger and younger people are experiencing heart attacks with no prior warning! Let’s share this with them and reduce the frequency of heart attacks and raise the probability of everyone reading this to live a long and prosperous life!