Do Your Part, Take Care of Your Heart

February is Heart Month, the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you need to take now to help your heart. 

Heart disease is the leading cause of death of Americans, both men and women.  In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Every 60 seconds, more than one person in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event. (CDC)  The good news?  It is also one of the most preventable.

While genetic factors do play a part in cardiovascular disease, the good news is 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases may be preventable with education and action. Simple lifestyle changes can make a big impact when it comes to heart health.  Here are a few tips to start taking control of your heart health:

Know your numbers: Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers cardiovascular screenings once every 5 years. These screenings include blood tests for cholesterol, lipid, and triglyceride levels to help detect conditions that may lead to a heart attack or stroke. While there are standard guidelines for blood pressure and cholesterol, ideal weight goals are individual to each person.  So talk to your doctor about your numbers and how to screen for them and keep them in check.

Don't smoke:  Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk of heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. Smokers are twice as likely to suffer heart attacks as non-smokers. Smoking is also linked to an increased risk of stroke. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, there are many resources to help you quit.

Get and stay active: Physical activity not only helps to prevent cardiovascular disease but can also improve overall mental and physical health. The American Heart Association recommends five 30 minute moderate exercise sessions each week which can be broken down into even smaller increments.  Ask a family member, neighbor or friend to take a walk with you, take the stairs or park further from your destination.

Eat Smart: Eat food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar and sodium. Try to fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables and include fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds and try eating some meals without meat. If this is a big change for you, start with small changes.

Sleep more, stress less and smile!

Here is a short video about heart disease and how Medicare can help you prevent it.