American Heart Association says heart health more valuable than pot of gold
A famous Irish blessing says, “May your pockets be heavy, and your heart be light, may good luck pursue you each morning and night.” You don’t have to find a four-leaf clover this Saint Patrick’s Day to experience the mythical “Luck of the Irish.” According to the American Heart Association, taking seven “lucky” steps known as Life’s Simple 7 can help you fight the seven risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular health.
Manage Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
Reduce Blood Sugar
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life. Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of both), preferably spread throughout the week.
Eat more greens! A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life! Eat a colorful diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish and nuts. Try to limit sugary foods and drinks, fatty or processed meats, and salt.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your health. When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
Not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages your circulatory system and increases your risk of multiple diseases, but the good news is that your lungs can begin to heal themselves as soon as you stop. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself. For more information about Life’s Simple 7 visit www.heart.org/mylifecheck
Diego is the Communications Director for the American Heart Association in New York City. He loves sharing powerful stories that inspire people to take control of their health.