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Did you know that February is American Heart Health Month? First established by  President Lyndon B. Johnson in Dec. 1963, the medical community uses this opportunity to raise awareness of cardiovascular issues and to put a spotlight on the importance of good heart health.

At Fetter Health Care Network, we hold our community members’ health as our highest priority. In celebration of American Heart Health Month, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to keep your heart healthy and happy all year long.

1. Adopt a healthy diet.

Although tasty, most processed foods contain harmful trans fats that can lead to clogged arteries and an increased risk of heart disease.  Adopting a healthier diet can do wonders for your heart and overall health.

Rather than a hamburger from your local drive-thru, opt for meals consisting of high fiber foods (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and those containing healthy fats like the omega-3s and omega-6s (fish, avocados and olive oil). 

Try flavoring dishes with herbs or spices to cut back on salt and reduce the risk of high blood pressure.

2. Sit less. Move more.

Developing a regular exercise routine is another way to reduce the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol and more. 

The CDC recommends the average adult get at least 150 minutes of regular activity per week, consisting of moderate to intense aerobic activity. This can include biking, dancing or a brisk walk.

3. Maintain a healthy weight.

Maintaining a healthy weight is critical for more than heart health. Individuals considered overweight or obese may also find themselves at risk for high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.

For those overweight, losing between just five to 10 percent of your overall body weight can reduce your risk of these complications. Altering your diet and exercise are easy steps you can take to reach a healthy weight goal. Consult your health care provider to learn more about the health benefits of weight loss and develop a plan for starting your journey to a healthy weight.

4. Practice good oral hygiene.

Oral health is overall health. Studies show that the development of bacteria that causes gum disease can lead to complications within your veins. Further research links the development of several non-oral health conditions, including heart disease and clogged arteries, to those stemming from poor dental care.

Practicing regular brushing and flossing along with routine visits to your dental specialist are essential tools in maintaining good oral health.

5. Quit smoking, and avoid second-hand smoke.

The risks of smoking extend beyond the development of lung cancer. This harmful habit also increases plaque formation throughout the blood vessels, leading to the development of Coronary Heart Disease.

If you or someone you know is interested in dropping this deadly habit, please call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

6. Manage your stress levels.

Stress is a normal part of everyday life. However, uncontrolled, long-term stress can result in high blood pressure, cholesterol and more, leading to heart complications.

Some stresses can be reduced by taking preventive measures like planning ahead. Other triggers can be avoided entirely from time to time. And while some stresses cannot, there are ways to manage your stress levels, such as breathing exercises, meditation and more.

7. Keep up on prescribed medications.

Taking your prescribed medications on time and at their designated doses is key to reducing your risk of heart issues and maintaining heart health. 

Individuals at high risk of heart attack or stroke may be prescribed a statin or even a daily aspirin pill. Speak with your health care provider to see if these medications may be right for you.

8. Monitor your blood pressure.

While you should continue to make regularly scheduled visits with your healthcare provider, at-home blood pressure devices are an excellent way to watch for signs of complications between visits. 

At-home devices are simple to operate and safe to use. Fetter currently offers patients the ability to request at-home devices with access to our team to assist with the device’s set-up.

9. Uncover your family history.

Simply put, a family history refers to the running list of health issues carried by your relatives throughout history. Because you share the same genes as your family members, you are also at an elevated risk of developing any complications they have been diagnosed with. 

Creating an in-depth family history will give you a better understanding of your family’s medical past. It will also be a great asset for your doctor, who can assess these elevated risks and create a plan for their prevention.

10. Work with your health care providers.

Together, you and your provider are the perfect pair for maintaining heart health. By working alongside your medical team, you can collaborate to create a personalized lifestyle that promotes health and counteract any negative habits. 

To learn more about heart health and other Fetter patient services or schedule your next wellness visit, visit us online at FetterHealthCare.org or call us at 843-722-4112.