“Valentine’s Day and February Heart Health Month is a great reminder to everyone about the importance of taking good care of our hearts,” says Sami Azzam, MD, Chief of Cardiology at Kaiser Permanente Panorama City.
“Your health is important to the people who love you,” Azzam notes. “Show them that you love them, too, by taking good care of yourself.”
To help celebrate February Heart Health Month, Dr. Azzam offers six steps you can take now to help your cardiovascular system thrive.
1. Eat right for your heart. Heart-healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins (such as fish, beans, chicken, nuts and low-fat dairy), and whole grains will help keep your heart and blood vessels in good shape. Visit a farmers market for fresh inspiration.
2. If you drink alcohol, drink it in moderation. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks a day for men. A drink equals:
· 12 ounces of beer
· 5 ounces of wine
· 1 ounce of liquor
3. Get your heart pumping. We recommend that you do 150 minutes of exercise in a week or at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days. If you can’t do 30 minutes at once, do 10 minutes at a time.
Brisk walking, swimming, or cycling are especially good for the heart, but choose any activity you enjoy. Start at your comfort level, and build up gradually. If you have heart disease, check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program.
4. Maintain a healthy weight. Lowering your weight by just 10 percent can make a significant difference in reducing your heart disease risk. If you need to lose weight, learn ways to change your eating habits and be more physically active.
5. De-stress your life. Stress, anger, anxiety, and depression may keep your blood pressure high and increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, and other illnesses.
6. If you smoke, now’s the time to quit. For helping quitting, call 1-800-NO-BUTTS (1-800-662-8887).
About Kaiser Permanente Southern California
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 3.8 million members in Southern California. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information follow us on twitter; @KPSCALNews or go to: www.kp.org/share.