February is designated American Heart Month. While this monthly observance has drawn to a close, caring for your heart's health should be a year-round process. Your heart is the cornerstone of your overall health; without a healthy heart, your body cannot survive. Central Ozarks Medical Center is here to help you keep your heart healthy with these simple tips and reminders.
1. Get Plenty Of (But Not Too Much) Sleep
Maintaining the proper level of sleep on a nightly basis is an important component of keeping your heart healthy. One study cited on WebMD found that young and middle-aged adults who got 7-8 hours of sleep per night had less calcium in their arteries than adults who slept 5 hours or less or 9 hours or more. Calcium buildup in the arteries can be an early sign of heart disease.
2. Don't Expose Yourself To Tobacco Smoke
Tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes are hard on your heart, your lungs, and the rest of your body. Spending time in close proximity with people who smoke is tough on your body, too, since breathing secondhand smoke exposes your body to the same toxins. One of the best ways to improve your heart health is to limit your exposure to tobacco smoke and other tobacco products.
3. Get Moving
Your body's ease of mobility and range of motion often follows the "use it or lose it" rule. The less you move your body, the harder it will be for you to be active when you do decide to be. It's important to give your body mild to moderate exercise at least a few days per week. It is also important to limit the amount of time you spend sitting down. If you must sit for long periods of time at work, get up and stretch your legs every 1-2 hours.
4. Don't Drink Your Calories
Being overweight is hard on the body. It makes your heart (and other systems) work harder, and this extra effort can eventually take a toll. Losing weight is rarely easy, but one helpful way to start is to quit drinking sugary beverages that cause you to consume more calories than you may realize. Start by limiting the amount of soda, sweetened tea, fruit juice, and sweetened coffee that you consume on a regular basis. Cutting back on your alcohol intake is important, too.
5. Limit Your Salt Intake
The American Heart Association recommends that consume only 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, and that you do not exceed 2,400 milligrams. Unfortunately, the CDC states that Americans consume, on average, 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Prolonged high-sodium diets can result in high blood pressure, edema, weakened bones, and potentially stomach problems. Limiting your sodium intake is an important part of improving heart health.
COMC Is Here To Help Keep Your Heart Healthy!
These tips can help get you started on the right track, but there are multiple other things you can do to improve your heart health. Eating a balanced diet that is low in processed foods is one example. It is also important to schedule regular checkups with your doctor to test your blood pressure and identify any preliminary warning signs of heart disease.
For more information about improving heart health, contact one of our primary care physicians at the Lake of the Ozarks. Our medical staff will be here to help you however we can. Together, we can work towards optimum heart health so that you can live a long, healthy life!
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