February is American Heart Month: What’s Your How?

Cheerful young woman smiling with arms raised

We are one week into American Heart Month, and we are asking “why” you all choose to live heart-healthy lifestyles. The reasons are many: parents, kids, pets, beach bodies, peace of mind, time with friends, faster race times, and even just being able to sign up for a race. Life is why you choose to make healthy choices each day.

But sometimes, the better question is: How?

How do I make that change? How can I fix something that may or may not be broken? How do I know what I need to change? How can I adjust the way I have lived my life for the past five, 10 or 80 years to live life the way I should for my “why”?

The answer is simple, though not easily carried out. According to the American Heart Association, healthy eating and physical activity are two lifestyle adjustments that, over time, are your best weapons for fighting heart disease. Along with effective stress management, you are able to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke over time.

While making these lifestyle adjustments can help to improve your heart health, it is important to know how to monitor changes in your health for signs of potential issues. Here are some important numbers to know from the American Heart Association and UC Health:

  1. BMI: 18.5-24.9 is considered healthy
  2. Waist size: Women should be less than 35 inches; Men less than 40 inches
  3. Blood pressure: Systolic (top number) under 120; Diastolic (bottom number) under 80
  4. Cholesterol: Total number less than 200
  5. Blood sugar: Less than 100 after fasting for eight hours

It is also important to be aware of any family history of cardiovascular disease and stroke that you may have, and talk to your doctor about how to manage any ongoing issues.

We will explore how you can make heart-healthy choices during American Heart Month, so look out for future posts for guidance on eating healthy, exercising and managing your stress.

Here’s to your heart!

 

Story by Meredith Hein, UC Health Public Relations & Marketing

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