Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, even among younger people between the ages of 35 to 64. Join Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City (Blue KC) this month as we recognize American Heart Month with some helpful tips for maintaining your heart health. By the end of February, we hope some of these tips will have formed into habits that you practice throughout the rest of the year and beyond.
Know Your Numbers
Knowing and understanding your health numbers, like blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI, are key to identifying conditions that might put you at risk for heart disease. Even if you do not exhibit any signs or symptoms, monitoring these numbers in consultation with your doctor is crucial to recognizing potential risks and putting a plan in place to prevent heart disease.
Choose Healthy Eating Options
While eating can be as much of a social activity as it is a way to maintain proper nutrition, it is important to maintain regular healthy eating habits to help keep your key health numbers in check. This doesn’t mean you have to give up all of the food you love, but you should consider planning meals ahead of time to ensure you consume a well-balanced diet. Check out some tips for how to make healthy eating choices when dining out.
Take a Walk
Whether that’s taking a brisk walk during your lunch break or playing a fun game of basketball, regular physical activity is another way to show your heart some love. Physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your bones and lift your mood. The American Heart Association recommends getting about 2.5 hours of “heart-pumping” physical activity per week, but consult your doctor before engaging in any physical exercise.
It’s not just about the amount of sleep you get, but about the quality of your sleep too. Quality sleep can help decrease your calorie intake and reduce your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, and make sure you charge your devices across the room and silence notifications to eliminate the temptation of texting or scrolling in bed.
If you find yourself under stress often, work to develop coping strategies that will keep away high blood pressure, chest pain or irregular heartbeats. Your mind and body will give you warning signs if they determine you are over-stressed. Some warning signs include feeling overwhelmed, anxiety, inability to concentrate and difficulty sleeping. Learn more about how to destress.
According to the CDC, roughly 37.8 million Americans still smoke cigarettes, despite being the top preventable cause of premature death including cardiovascular disease and stroke. We understand that quitting can be one of the hardest things to do, but we’re here to help. For example, eligible members can participate in a free online smoking cessation coaching through Blue KC’s A Healthier You™ program.