Published on January 22, 2017

Putting Your Heart First In 2017

If you already have a few New Year's resolutions in play, it's not too late to add a couple of heart health changes to the mix. And no, we aren't talking about a new romantic resolution, sorry, but you've already missed "Dating Sunday" this year. But, let's bring it back to where it matters- that major muscle in your chest that pumps five quarts of blood per minute throughout the day, that's the most important one you should commit to taking care of this year.

If you don't know your numbers, those related to your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose (sugar) levels, it's important you get familiar with them. High blood pressure causes your heart to work harder and can cause the coronary arteries to become narrowed. High cholesterol can cause plaque to develop in your arteries while high blood glucose levels can damage nerves and blood vessels. All of these factors raise your risk for developing heart disease and with it being the number one killer in the United States accounting for one in seven deaths a year is important to know where you stand. Once you know your numbers, you can understand your risk for developing heart disease and work together with your medical team on ways to reduce it.

While heart disease is a pervasive and deadly threat, the good news is that 80 percent of heart disease and stroke can be prevented through education of your risks and lifestyle changes,” says Sue Nordstrom, Cardiac Rehabilitation Coordinator at Sturdy Memorial Hospital. To focus on heart disease prevention, work to improve your diet and commit to getting more exercise. Aim to incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole beans and fish into your diet while limiting the amount of saturated and trans-fat you consume. When planning your workouts, strive for at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Try to do your strength training before your cardio as it can help reduce your blood glucose levels. If you smoke- it’s time to quit. The chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels, not to mention that smoking raises your blood pressure and heart rate.