How good are you to your heart? Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., so this vital organ of ours should be given top priority. February is American Heart Month so now is the perfect time to take steps in your life to help prevent heart disease. Here are ten ways you can do this:

1. Manage Existing Conditions
If you have diabetes or other health conditions, manage them appropriately. Take the medications prescribed to you by your doctor and always inform your doctor when you’re feeling new symptoms.

2. Get Moving
Exercise is a huge part of heart health and one of the best things you can do for yourself. Adopt a routine that includes some type of physical fitness for at least 30 minutes a day almost every day of the week. Balance this with light strength training and stretching.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to the CDC, obesity can lead to a variety of health complications, including coronary heart disease. Even losing a little weight can help, so begin right away with a better diet. Instead of focusing on dieting, focus on eating fewer calories and more heart healthy foods like whole grains.

4. Eat Less Meat
Take a hint from the national campaign Meatless Monday and skip meat at least one day a week. Try new recipes that spotlight delicious grains and vegetables.

5. Be Prepared
In the event of a heart attack, know to seek help quickly. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, of the people who die from heart attacks, about half die before they reach the hospital. Have an action plan for yourself and loved ones.

6. Cut out Alcohol
According to the CDC, alcohol can increase risk of many health issues, including high blood pressure. Avoid alcohol to help avoid heart disease.

7. Work With Your Doctor
You and your health care provider are a team. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to prevent heart disease and about your personal risk factors, including family history. Keep appointments and work with your doctor to monitor your cholesterol.

8. Monitor Blood Pressure
Keep your blood pressure under control through regular monitoring and the help of your physician. If you’ve been prescribed medication, take it regularly.

9. Avoid Smoking and Secondhand Smoke
If you smoke, quit. If you don’t, be aware of the risk of secondhand smoke. The US Surgeon General has stated, “Nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25 to 30 percent and lung cancer by 20 to 30 percent.”

10. Beat Stress
Try to limit stress in your life. This isn’t easy, but it’s something you can try to be aware of. Don’t over-extend yourself when it comes to commitments and focus on doing things that make you feel good.

North Hills Hospital’s Chest Pain Center is the first in Texas to achieve Cycle I, II, and III accreditation for chest pain care. Please visit our website to learn when to worry about chest pain. To find a cardiologist, please call 1-855-5NHILLS.

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