Covenant Health is an innovative, Catholic regional delivery network and a leader in values based, not-for-profit health and elder care. We sponsor hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living residences and other health and elder care organizations throughout New England.
LOCATIONS

Heart Month Awareness

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. It is important to understand the facts and how you can live a heart healthy lifestyle. Below are 10 ways to ensure your heart’s in the right place!

10 Ways to Keep your Heart Healthy 

1.    Eat a Low-fat Diet
A heart-healthy diet is low in total fat, saturated fats and trans fats that raise blood cholesterol levels. To cut saturated fat, choose lean cuts of meat and remove skin from poultry before eating. Choose low-fat and fat-free dairy products. To avoid trans fats, check the ingredient list on all commercially processed food products, especially baked goods and crackers, and avoid any that contain partially hydrogenated vegetable oils.
 
2.    Add Fiber
Fiber helps lower blood cholesterol levels and helps you feel full, so you are less likely to overeat. A high-fiber diet contains nutrient-packed foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole-grain cereals and breads and legumes, such as black beans, lima beans, chickpeas and lentils.

3.    Cut Cholesterol
Cholesterol is found only in animal products, such as meat, poultry, dairy products and eggs. Lean and low-fat foods can still be high in cholesterol. Check Nutrition Facts labels to keep track of the cholesterol in your food and consume no more than 300 mg daily.

4.    Eat Fish
Eat fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and albacore tuna at least twice a week. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish and in fish oil supplements, can lower blood triglycerides (fats), slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of sudden death from heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.

5.    Lose Weight
Being overweight increases your risk of developing high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides (fats), low levels of healthful HDL cholesterol and heart disease. Losing weight decreases your risk of these and other health conditions that affect your heart, such as diabetes and sleep apnea (obstructed breathing).

6.    Exercise Often
Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, or at least on most days. Regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, bike riding, stair climbing, swimming, jumping rope, circuit training and dancing keeps your heart fit, raises your levels of protective HDL cholesterol and can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Being active at home and at work rather than just sitting for most of the day also contributes to heart fitness.

7.    Drink Moderately
Although a glass of red wine contains antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of heart disease and alcohol can cause a slight raise in HDL cholesterol levels, drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure, your triglycerides and your calorie count. Moderate drinking is defined as up to one average-sized drink daily for women and two for men.

8.    Quit Smoking
Many different chemicals found in tobacco smoke can damage your heart, according to experts at the Mayo Clinic. Smoking decreases your body's supply of oxygen and causes blood vessels to constrict. Simply cutting back or switching to low-tar and low-nicotine brands of cigarettes is not enough to significantly reduce your risk of heart disease. When you quit smoking, your risk of developing heart disease starts to drop immediately and decreases dramatically within the first year.
Smoking Cessation Brochure

9.    Avoid Stress
The way you handle both personal and professional stress may affect your heart directly, or it may affect other risk factors that lead to heart disease, such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels, physical activity levels and eating, drinking and smoking habits. If you feel overwhelmed by stressful events or respond to stress with poor lifestyle choices, speak to a health care practitioner about healthier ways to cope.
Class: Stress Management through Meditation: Strong Mind-Body Medicine for Challenging Times

10.     Get Checkups
See your doctor for an annual physical that includes blood pressure and cholesterol testing and monitoring. Take any medications prescribed to control blood pressure and cholesterol levels as directed or speak to your doctor about alternatives.

Visit our Cardiovascular and Diabetes page for more information about St. Joseph Hospital's comprehensive Cardiovascular department and services.


Resources:

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/

Go RED for Women: Fight Heart Disease in Women
https://www.goredforwomen.org/

Heart Disease Infographic
http://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease-infographic