Heart to Heart: Timely Tips for Heart Health

Story from Health.mil

Photo: February is National Heart Month.  Changes in blood pressure and cholesterol diagnoses and management have led to fewer medications needed by patients and an emphasis on patient-driven treatment. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill/Released)

February is National Heart Month. Changes in blood pressure and cholesterol diagnoses and management have led to fewer medications needed by patients and an emphasis on patient-driven treatment. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Airman 1st Class Austin Harvill/Released)

The Military Health System encourages service members, their families and other beneficiaries to take control of their cardiovascular health by becoming more active, making healthy choices and increasing overall wellness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates some 600,000 people die of heart disease each year, making it the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.  A lifestyle that includes tobacco use, inactivity, obesity and unhealthy diet choices are factors that can potentially impact heart health and increase risk of heart disease and other complications.

By considering and implementing the following tips, anyone can improve their heart health and general wellness:

• Treat your heart to a Valentine’s Day meal that includes fatty fish like wild caught salmon, mackerel or herring, which are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association says Omega-3 fatty acids may help decrease the risk of arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats.  Vegetables and a salad topped with a handful of walnuts or almonds and fruits can also help round out a feast that’s healthy and tasty.

• Get your heart pumping by engaging in physical activities. Experts agree that engaging in physical activity is one of the most important things people can do to improve their health. Make it fun! Take a brisk walk with a loved one, run with a pet, go dancing or play a game of kickball to increase your heart rate.

• Listen to your heart and pay attention to irregularities like palpitations and chest pains.  These could signal danger.  Also, know the symptoms of a heart attack as they often present differently for men and women.

• Monitor your heart health with regular blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar screenings and ask your medical provider for help if your numbers are out of the healthy range.

For more information about DoD programs and strategies that support healthy living visit Operation Live Well, a Defense Department health and wellness campaign designed to encourage healthy lifestyle choices, physical activity, healthy eating, mental and emotional well-being and tobacco-free living.

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