Heart Month: You say you’ll always be there. Mean it.

February 02, 2015

When you tell your children, spouse or aging parent you’ll be there for them, you want to mean what you say. That’s why it’s so important to take care of your heart.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States, killing one in four Americans. The good news is that heart disease can often be prevented.

Your numbers, your risk
You can’t control all the things that put you at risk of heart disease, but you can control some of them. While you can’t change heredity and age, you can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The first step is to know your risk and see a trusted health care professional to help you reduce it.

The following factors are most likely to influence your risk of heart disease. The closer you get to each of the goals, the more you reduce your risk. Every little change matters – and can even put years back on your life. For example, it’s best to get 30 minutes of activity five days a week, but even 10 minutes a day can improve your health.

Blood pressure Goal: less than 140/90

Blood cholesterol Goal: less than 180 total

Fasting glucose (blood sugar) Goal: less than 100

Body mass index (BMI) Goal: less than 25

Tobacco Goal: zero used, zero exposure

Alcoholic drinks Goal: no more than one per day for women, two for men

Activity Goal: 30 minutes, at least five days per week

Sodium Goal: less than 2,400 milligrams per day

Knowing your risk and talking to a health care provider about it could add years to your life. Be there for the ones you love.