Now that the hustle and bustle of the holidays is finally over, many of us are already taking a look forward to our 2012 New Year’s resolutions. Since heart disease remains the number one killer of women in the United States, why not add getting heart healthy to your list of New Year’s resolutions this year?
Many of the risk factors for heart disease are preventable and what better time than the new year to make a plan to get heart healthy.
While improving your heart health might seem overwhelming, it can be easy with a little careful planning and strategy. First, begin by knowing your risk factors so you know where to concentrate your efforts.
Risk factors include items such as age, sex, family history, diabetes, smoking, poor diet, high blood pressure, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, high cholesterol, and high stress levels. Since you can’t change your age, sex or family history, select resolutions that focus on the risk factors you can change.
Consider heart healthy resolutions such as the following:
1. Improve your diet. In general, you’ll want to ensure your diet includes foods such as fish for omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Foods which are high in salt, cholesterol, or fat should be limited.
If you’re unsure where to start, check out the American Heart Association guidelines at http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.TwEf8NVEaSo.
2. Stop smoking. Smoking is bad for your heart health for a number of reasons. The nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to constrict. In addition, the added carbon monoxide leads to damage of the inner lining of blood vessels.
As a result, smokers are more likely than non-smokers to suffer a heart attack. If you’re a smoker, the best way to remove this risk factor is to quit.
3. Fight Obesity. In addition to heart disease, obesity contributes to a number of other health conditions such as diabetes which also further contribute to heart disease. It’s generally accepted that a body mass index or BMI of more than 25 is considered obese.