February is American Heart Month. Heart disease remains the number one killer of men and women in New York and the U.S., but many cases are preventable.
1. Reduce stress. Find time to relax, even if it is only for 15 minutes. Take a bike ride around Crocheron Park or take a yoga class at the Cardiac Health Center at NYHQ.
2. Eat healthy. Total cholesterol levels of 240 mg/dL or more and LDL cholesterol levels of 160 mg/dL or more signal a high risk for heart disease, stroke and vascular disease. Foods like oatmeal (high in fiber), fish (high in omega-3 fatty acids) and nuts (high in polyunsaturated fatty acids) may help reduce cholesterol. These healthy foods can be found at local markets all over Queens.
3. Lose weight. Being overweight can increase the risk of heart disease. Physical activity like taking a walk around Queens Botanical Garden, for as little as 30 minutes a day, can help reduce risk.
4. Manage blood pressure. Blood pressure readings higher than 140/90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) increase the risk for heart disease. Talk to a doctor about how to lower blood pressure.
5. Quit smoking today. According to the American Heart Association, smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the U.S. Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. For those who don’t smoke, be sure to avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.