Love your Heart! February is American Heart Month

The American Heart Association is recognizing its 57th consecutive American Heart Month by promoting a group of key measures called Life’s Essential 8 for better cardiovascular health and to lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and other major health problems. Those eight measures are:

1. Eat Better. Eat whole foods, fruits & vegetables, lean proteins. Limit sugar, alcohol and red meat, and avoid tropical oils like coconut and palm oil.

2. Be More Active. Strive for 2-1/2 hours of moderate exercise per week. Sit less and move more!

3. Quit tobacco. Within one year of quitting, your risk of heart disease goes down by half.

4. Get Healthy Sleep. Aim for 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily. Good sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk of chronic disease.

5. Manage Weight. Control your portions, stay active, and eat a healthy diet.

6. Control Cholesterol. Your health care professional can measure blood cholesterol and help you understand what the levels mean. Track your cholesterol levels over time and take steps to reduce high cholesterol:

  • HDL = GOOD: High-density lipoprotein is known as “good” cholesterol.
  • LDL = BAD: Low-density lipoprotein is known as “bad” cholesterol.
  • HDL helps keep LDL from sticking to artery walls and reduces plaque buildup. This process can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Triglycerides: The most common type of fat in the body.
  • Total Cholesterol: HDL level + LDL level + 1/5th of triglyceride level = total cholesterol level.

7. Manage Blood Sugar. Your health care professional can take blood glucose readings and provide recommendations. If you’re diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, you will need to monitor your blood sugar level regularly. Blood glucose lower than 100 mg/dl is considered a normal, healthy range.

8. Manage Blood Pressure. Know your blood pressure level. A diagnosis of high blood pressure must be confirmed by a medical professional. A doctor should also evaluate any unusually low blood pressure readings.

Need assistance with any of Life’s Essential 8s? The Medical Center’s primary care physicians and Physical Therapy department can help. If weight control is a problem, the Center’s FitMed program has a proven success rate. The Physical Therapy department can get you started on strengthening exercises. If sleeping is problematic, visiting specialist Dr. Raul Valor is a pulmonary sleep disorder specialist. All these resources are right here at the Medical Center.