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February is American Heart Health Month

February is American  Heart Health MonthIt’s February, which reminds us all that we celebrate Valentine’s Day this month, but more importantly than the merely giving of chocolates and roses, this holiday it’s imperative to consider the fact that our hearts are what really matter.  Since heart disease is still the leading cause of death in both men and women, what better way to understand and implement heart healthy prevention?

Since it is an awareness month of our heart’s health, here are a few tips to get us going:
• Exercise multiple times per week
• Eat a healthy diet
• Cut down on stress levels
• Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
• Stop smoking
• Get professional help for cutting out narcotics and other drugs
• Practice relaxation methods
• Get physical examinations and regular checkups recommendations

Exercise is a critical factor in our heart’s health.  It’s recommended that we get 2.5 hours of moderate exercise weekly or 1.5 hours of active cardiovascular exercise per week.  It’s okay to do a combination of the two, by walking one day for 20 minutes and sprinting the next for 30.  No matter what you decide, you should always consult your physician before embarking on any workout plan.  Along with cardiovascular uptake, exercise helps to increase the oxygen in our blood, and this is relevant to our overall heart health.

Eating a healthy diet is strongly recommended for many health benefits, but in terms of keeping our hearts ticking along, a diet low in saturated fat, high in vegetables and fruits, legumes, healthy oils like olive oil and avocado is key.  Also consuming less unhealthy carbohydrates and more low-fat proteins like fish and poultry are critical.  If you have high blood pressure, minimizing salt is also highly significant.  Instead of salt try substituting with lemon or spices and herbs.

In our days filled with the high demands of work and family, stress can cause many issues that aggravate our health.  Trying to find a way to minimize stress can be very helpful.  One way is to exercise, as this blows off a lot of frustration.

Finding time to decompress, either with a long walk, meditation, prayer or taking a peaceful bath can be beneficial.

If you smoke, stop now.  Smoking causes an array of adverse health effects including increasing plaque build up in our arteries, raising bad cholesterol, decreasing good cholesterol, and damages the vessel walls to name a few.  If you smoke your chances of a heart attack are extremely high, smoking causes 6 million deaths per year.  Talk to your physician about a specific smoking cessation plan for you. This holds true for any drug addictions that you may have. Do not wait; get help today.

There are specific test and screenings that your physician can provide to decipher how healthy your heart is and what the next steps should be.  These include blood tests, stress tests, EKG’s, Holter monitors, vascular ultrasounds, and scans.

To find more information on Dr. Vallabhan, you local cardiologist please call (352) 750-2040 or visit them online at, www.drvcardio.com.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

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