Heart-Healthy Tips to Follow All Year Long
by Alicia Schwartz
Feb 21, 2017 | 11589 views | 0 0 comments | 374 374 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hypertensive heart disease (HHD) is the leading cause of death for all Americans. HHD increases with age, and includes heart failure, coronary artery disease, and other conditions.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says the risk for HHD is even higher in roughly 40 percent of African American men and women who have high blood pressure, which often develops into hypertensive heart disease.

As a registered nurse care coordinator with VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans, I work with many of our members who are diagnosed with heart disease. I educate them on managing their disease and help them follow simple tips that get them on track for making healthier lifestyle choices. Here are a few of those helpful reminders:

• Limit Saturated Fat. Eating too much saturated fat can increase the cholesterol level in your blood, ultimately increasing you risk of heart disease. Opting for leaner meats and lower-fat dairy products helps.

• Eat Fish. Fish is a great source of omega-3 fats, which can help protect against heart disease.

• Restrict Salt Intake. Try to avoid adding salt to food you are cooking and do not add it to premade food. The AHA recommends adults eat less than 2,300 mg. of salt daily, about one teaspoon, but the ideal limit is 1500 mg. (approximately one-half teaspoon).

• Hungry? Try Fiber. Fiber, such as oats, wholegrains, potatoes, fruits and vegetables, can help lower your risk of heart disease. Try eating at least 30 grams daily, which is approximately one ounce.

• Read Labels. To make healthier choices, read the amount of salt content on labels and add to the amount you take in each day. Always check fat, salt, and sugar on labels when food shopping.

• Stop Smoking. If you smoke, try to stop. Smoking is a primary cause of coronary heart disease. Your risk of heart attack falls to about half that of a smoker in just one year after quitting.

• Move. Even if you can’t get to the gym, remember that moderate activity can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. You can always march in place while watching TV. Taking walks, even just to the mailbox, helps.

American Heart Month is a great time to begin implementing heart healthy habits, but it is important to keep up with these lifestyle improvements throughout the year. As always, it is important to consult your health provider before making significant changes.

Alicia Schwartz is a care coordinator with VNSNY CHOICE Health Plans, an affiliate of the non-for-profit Visiting Nurse Service of New York.
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