Nearly 50% of adults in America have high blood pressure, yet only about 1 in 4 have it under control to <130/80 mm Hg. Over time, if high blood pressure is not addressed and adequately controlled, it can increase a person’s risk for heart disease, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, and many other health complications. High blood pressure is one of many heart-related health conditions that account for 1 in 5 deaths yearly in America.
This February is American Heart Month. Engaging in healthy behaviors can lower your risk for heart disease and other severe conditions. Let’s talk through some strategies to live a heart-healthy lifestyle!
- Know your health history. Your family history, lifestyle choices, and past or current health conditions can increase your risk for certain heart diseases. Understanding your risks will give you and your provider insights into the best ways to lower them.
- Eat a healthy diet. Developing healthy eating habits will reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Try to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less salt, saturated fat, and added sugars. Ask your provider about our Healthy Eating Habits handout to learn more!
- Incorporate physical activity and exercise into your routine. Exercise improves your muscle’s ability to pull oxygen from your blood, which reduces the stress on your heart to pump more blood to your muscles. Try to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and some form of muscle-strengthening activity at least two days a week.
- Avoid smoking or using tobacco products. Smoking increases your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke, COPD, diabetes, and more.
- Follow your provider’s instructions regarding medication. If you take medication for high blood pressure, cholesterol, or diabetes, always follow your provider’s instructions carefully. Ask clarifying questions if you don’t understand the instructions, and never stop taking your medication without discussing it with your provider first.
- Substitute water for other sugary drinks. Drinks are an easy way to consume large amounts of sugar, which can harm your heart and other parts of your body over time. Consume sodas, processed juices, and alcoholic beverages in moderation.
- Stay up to date on your annual wellness visit and other necessary appointments. Following the care plan your provider has recommended will help you to manage your health and wellness best and prevent severe health conditions.