February is American Heart Month. As a person who suffers from cardiac heart disease, I like to remind my readers of the importance of caring for your heart health. Six years ago I suffered a heart attack and had triple cardiac bypass surgery. I am thankful that I survived and am here today. It was not a fun experience and something I work hard to avoid a reoccurrence of today.
Heart disease has many causes. Some are not under our control. I have a long family history of cardiac heart disease with almost all males in my father’s family tree succumbing to heart failure. I cannot escape that hard cold fact that puts me at risk. I can only work to lessen the chance of another cardiac incident.
At the same time there are many factors that can help you not follow my path to a heart attack. I was eating a very bad diet of fast food, sweets and fats. I was the poster child for inactivity as the model couch potato. With the bad diet and lack of exercise, I was an obese person. It just added up to trouble; something that I somehow denied and was unable to see.
6 things that lessen your Chance of having a heart attack
Watch your diet. – Eating properly is a necessity for our bodies. Unfortunately, the constant barrage of fast food, pizza, prepared foods and snack foods in the media batters our willpower with tempting messages to eat poorly.
- Be a smart shopper by reading food labels and understanding what they mean.
- Be a smart diner by looking for healthy choices on menus and asking servers about food preparation and ingredients.
- Be a smart cook by using fresh, natural ingredients, avoiding prepared and processed foods, and avoiding frying or deep frying foods.
Start exercising. – For most of us, exercise is just no fun and takes time from other things we would rather do. The simple fact is that you need to move that body to keep it running properly.
- Be a walker. We all can walk. It’s easy and doesn’t cost a penny.
- Be adventurous. Look for a pastime that keeps you active.
- Be a fitness buddy. Exercise is much more enjoyable with a friend.
Watch your weight. – Maintaining a healthy weight takes effort. I am well aware of that. Your heart will have less stress if you reduce the weight.
- Be a person who knows their healthy weight and BMI.
- Be a watcher. Weigh yourself weekly and be vigilant of weight gain.
- Be accountable. Make maintaining your weight a priority.
Manage your stress. Stress is ever present in our lives. The key is how we manage that stress. Lowering your stress level in your life lessens the stress on your heart.
- Be a positive person. Looking at life on the bright side relieves stress.
- Be a restful person. A good night’s sleep gives your heart and body a chance to rest.
- Be a volunteer. Get out of the house and become part of the community. Volunteers are happier people.
Limit your bad fats. – Full fat dairy and fast food are some of the biggest sources of saturated fats. Packaged foods are sources of trans fats. Watch for these fats on labels and avoid them.
- Be fat smart. Avoid man-made, saturated and hydrogenated fats.
- Be a fat rationer. Reduce your fat intake. We all need some fat in our diet. Choose wisely.
- Be a fat watcher. Avoid overindulging in sweets, fast food, butter, cheese and fried food.
Quit smoking. – Smoking not only increase your chance of developing many cancers. Countless studies show that smoking increases blockages in the heart that lead to coronary failure. Stopping smoking takes away a major threat to your heart health.
- Be a non-smoker. All signs point to a healthier heart in non-smokers.
- Be a stop smoking advocate. Make sure your family and friends know the dangers.
The good news is that the six items in the above list are doable by all of us. The truth is that they take some effort. It is easy to be unhealthy. It’s not so easy to be healthy. Each of us needs to step up and take control of our lives. I advocate that we take baby steps on any journey. Changing our habits and traits is not an overnight task. Making slow progress adds up to big progress in the end. Start today by taking one of these items and make it a focus of your life. As time passes, add in another and then another. You will see your life transformed to the better.