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A Simple Guide to a Healthy Heart

iStock_000005354831XSmallAs we continue our celebration of heart health awareness month, it’s time for a short recap. We have a lot of the information to support a healthy heart. While the complete picture is different for everyone, here are some fundamentals to start with. These basics will boost your heart and overall health

Know Your Family History. While family history is not destiny, it’s important to know the risk factors in your own family tree. The health history of both men and women in your family is important. Health history includes factors like blood cholesterol and sugar levels and incidence of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, including the age of onset.

Know Your Numbers. Personal health measures are the foundation of your heart health. You need to know your basics — body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, cholesterol levels (including HDL, LDL, and triglycerides), and fasting blood sugar. Depending on your personal risk factors and overall health, your doctor may require other tests. If you haven’t seen your doctor in a year or more, it’s time to pay a visit. You need to update your numbers!

Be a Healthy Eater. A diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and low- and non-fat dairy products has a positive impact on heart health. Heart healthy vegetable fats are important, too. Limiting processed foods is a healthy eating plus – and automatically cuts down on hidden fats, salt, and sugars in your food. Maintaining a healthy weight goes along with healthy eating.

Stop Smoking. It’s never too late to quit smoking to benefit your heart. While smoking cessation is hard, there are a lot of tools to help you. Behavioral programs, coupled with over-the-counter or prescription medicines, can be the one-two punch to knock out smoking for good.