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8 Easy Steps Toward Better Heart Health

Since 1924, the American Heart Association has been fighting heart disease and stroke and helping people to live longer, healthier lives. Our local AHA shares ways that you can stay healthy, get involved and help raise awareness right here in NEPA.

The American Heart Association Welcomes You to Celebrate World Heart Day on Thursday, September 29

September 29 is World Heart Day, the annual recognition to increase awareness of heart disease and stroke worldwide. World Heart Day is about what you can do to get, and keep, hearts healthy.  The American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives, encourages you to take care of your heart health because beating cardiovascular disease is something that matters to every beating heart.

The American Heart Association announced a new checklist to measure cardiovascular health, which now includes healthy sleep – a response to the latest research showing that sleep impacts total health, and that people who get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night tend to manage other health factors more effectively.

Improving and maintaining cardiovascular health, or CVH, can help you enjoy a longer, healthier life. Better CVH also has been associated with decreased risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, dementia and other major health problems.

 

Life’s Essential 8™ outlines a few easy steps you can take to live a healthier lifestyle.

 

  • Eat Better. Aim for an overall healthy eating pattern that includes whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds and cooking in non-tropical oils such as olive and canola.
  • Be More Active. Aim for an overall healthy eating pattern that includes whole foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, nuts, seeds and cooking in non-tropical oils such as olive and canola.
  • Quit Tobacco. Use of inhaled nicotine delivery products, which includes traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes and vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., including about a third of all deaths from heart disease. And about a third of U.S. children ages 3-11 are exposed to secondhand smoke or vaping.
  • Get Healthy Sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep every night is vital to cardiovascular health. Adults should aim for an average of 7-9 hours, and babies and kids need more depending on their age. Too little or too much sleep is associated with heart disease, studies show.
  • Manage Weight. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has many benefits. Body mass index (BMI), a numerical value of your weight in relation to your height, is a useful gauge. Optimal BMI for most adults ranges from 18.5 to less than 25. You can calculate it online or consult a health care professional.
  • Control Cholesterol. High levels of non-HDL, or “bad,” cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Your health care professional can consider non-HDL cholesterol as the preferred number to monitor, rather than total cholesterol, because it can be measured without fasting beforehand and is reliably calculated among all people.
  • Manage Blood Sugar. Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our bodies use as energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves. As part of testing, monitoring hemoglobin A1c can better reflect long-term control in people with diabetes or prediabetes.
  • Manage Blood Pressure. Keeping your blood pressure within acceptable ranges can keep you healthier longer. Levels less than 120/80 mm Hg are optimal. High blood pressure is defined as 130-139 mm Hg systolic pressure (the top number in a reading) or 80-89 mm Hg diastolic pressure (bottom number).

 

Learn more at Life’s Essential 8™.

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