It is American Heart Month this February and we thought we’ll share some 10 ways you can stay on top of your heart health. According to the 2021 American Heart Association Report – Annual Statistical Update, heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide and with the advent of COVID-19, cardiovascular disease and death rates are more likely to remain high in the coming years.
COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown has changed the way we live and seem to encourage unhealthy lifestyles and behaviours such as less physical activities, unhealthy eating habits, increased alcohol consumption among others.
It is important to identify risk factors and take action to protect yourself against heart disease. Follow these 10 tips to lower your risk and prevent heart disease.
1) Regularly check your blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels
2) Exercise minimum 30 minutes per day at least 5 days a week. Not getting enough physical activity increases the risk for heart disease and stroke.
3) Eat a healthy diet: low sodium, fruits and vegetables, plant-based protein, healthy fats, whole grains, complex carbohydrates. Here is a link to heart healthy recipes you can try.
4) Avoid refined sugars and other sweeteners, saturated fat, junk food, instead cook at home more often and enjoy mealtimes with your family.
5) Keep a healthy weight. Determine your target weight range based on your BMI and work towards keeping your weight within that range.
6) Quit smoking and limit alcohol. Stop smoking and encourage your partners or household members to quit so as to avoid second hand smoking.
7) Get quality sleep between 7-8 hours per day to allow your body to rest and rejuvenate. Studies show that getting little or poor quality sleep increases the risk of high blood pressure.
8) Manage stress by practicing some relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, warm bath, quiet time, read a book or watch a movie. Set time aside for self-care daily or weekly depending on your schedule.
9) Get and stay connected. Develop and maintain healthy relationship with your friends and loved ones.
10) Keep your heart medications organized and take them regularly as prescribed by your doctors.
Bio: Dr. Bolanle Aina is a licensed pharmacist currently practicing in the community/retail sector. She also holds a Master of Science degree and Doctor of philosophy degree in Pharmacy from the University of Manitoba. She is passionate about health information and medical communication to promote healthy living and optimal drug therapy.
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