We Got Heart!

by Abby Pratt, CHOP5 Nutrition Blogger

What is the thing you love the most?  Mine is salad! Just kidding… well kinda ; ) 

The month of February is all about love with Valentine’s day falling in the middle. Hearts are already flooding the stores. But did you know February is also the month designated for heart health? You have probably heard the term heart disease thrown around before. You may feel that your habits are good enough and that it is something that happens to people that are doing the bare minimum, but it can happen to anyone. The more you know the better. Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Heart disease kills someone in the US every 37 seconds. Not to be all doom and gloom here, but the fact is heart disease is as common as it is serious. Good news though! Many of the risk factors that lead to heart disease are within your direct control. If you take control of all of the modifiable risk factors and get in healthy ranges you can reduce your risk for heart disease by 80%

Controllable Risk Factors

  • Inactivity
  • High body weight
  • Excessive alcohol consumption 
  • Smoking tobacco
  • High blood pressure 
  • Stress levels
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes* (Type 1 cannot be negated, but it can be managed to decrease risk. Type II can be negated through healthy diet, exercise and medications) 

Click here  to assess your risk in less than 5 minutes! 

Okay, now what?

So maybe some of those stats scared you a little up there. Remember though, you are very much in control! Below are some steps you can take to do your best to minimize your chances of contracting heart disease. 

Modify Your Diet

1. Keep heart health in mind when making choices.

  • You will want to limit saturated fats, trans fats, sodium and sugar
  • Beware of red meat as well. Go for leaner cuts if you do consume it! 
  • Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables. 
  • Opt for low fat dairy products.
  • Consume a healthy number of calories. Unsure what that is for you? Use this tool  to get a general estimate for you based on your age, weight, height, activity level and gender.  
  • Consume fish containing omega 3 fatty acids at least twice a week (e.g. salmon, trout or herring) 
  • Keep an eye out for the American Heart Association’s red heart on boxed/bagged foods that meet their criteria for fats and cholesterol.
  • Make it easy on yourself and pop into CHOP5 and create your own salad loaded with heart healthy vegetables and healthy fats (avocado & sunflower seeds). 

2. Go to your primary care physician to get blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, if you don’t know where you stand. Yearly physicals are very important when it comes to being preventative. 

3. Consider your family history since heredity does play a role (and is uncontrollable), but if you are aware you can monitor signs more closely.

4. Get moving! You need to be doing some form of cardiovascular exercise throughout the week (daily is best!). Try brisk walks, hilly hikes, jogs, swimming or cycling to get moving and get your blood flowing. 

Learn the Warning Signs

5. Learn the warning signs of a heart attack or stroke. Movie scenes where people grasp their chest in pain and fall to the ground immediately are not reflective of what a heart attack looks like for everyone. In fact, women have some differences in the symptoms they experience. To learn more click here

Think again about some things you love the most. In order to enjoy those things to the fullest, you have to be the best and healthiest you. This Valentine’s Day try planning a romantic hike, CHOP5 double date or maybe tell your main squeeze to skip out on getting you chocolates this year in an effort to keep your beating heart as healthy as possible. <3 

Wishing you a month full of love and health! 

Xoxo Chop well, Eat well, Live well