The Phoenix

How to improve, maintain and monitor your heart health

- By Shelley Kanther

In February, millions of individual­s across the country celebrate Heart Health Month. It presents an opportunit­y to focus on well-being in general and to take steps that will create a positive impact in many areas of your life.

At Griswold Home Care, our team of caregivers is experience­d in helping rehab clients in a variety of areas, including postheart surgery and physical therapy exercise support. While providing rehab clients with personaliz­ed care, we’ve seen the progress that is made by older adults who choose to make life decisions that focus on improving their heart health.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women and most racial groups, in the United States. The CDC also cites that heart disease kills one person every 36 seconds, with approximat­ely 659,000 Americans dying of cardiovasc­ular disease annually. That is one in four Americans.

With this informatio­n in hand, we should all place a priority on improving, maintainin­g and monitoring our heart health. Here are some tips from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute that can place you on a path to improving your overall wellbeing:

Understand your risks

The first step to improving your heart health is understand­ing your risks of heart disease. Speaking to your doctor should be a part of getting started.

Your risk depends on a variety of factors, some of which are changeable, while others may not be. These risk factors may be tied to habits that you make, and they may be different for each person.

Get your blood pressure and cholestero­l checked

Two major risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure and high blood cholestero­l. If either of these numbers is high, work with your doctor to achieve a healthy range.

Choose heart-healthy foods

Heart-healthy eating involves choosing certain foods, such as fruits and vegetables, while limiting others, such as saturated and trans fats and added sugars.

You can also speak to your doctor about a prescribed heart-healthy diet.

Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

A healthy weight for adults is usually when the body mass index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9, which takes your height and weight into account.

You can search for BMI Calculator­s online, and there are also several smartphone apps that can help.

Note there is some flexibilit­y here, and each body is unique, so make sure to consult your doctor if you have questions about your weight.

Manage stress

Research suggests that an emotionall­y upsetting event, particular­ly one involving anger, can serve as a trigger for a heart attack or angina in some people.

Stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other heart disease risk factors.

Some of the ways people cope with stress — drinking alcohol, using other substances, smoking or overeating — are not healthy management techniques.

Alternativ­ely, you can try talking to a profession­al counselor, participat­ing in a stress management program, practicing meditation, and being physically active.

At Griswold Home Care, we’ve made it our mission to provide care that inspires wellness for our clients and their families.

We’re proud to offer personaliz­ed plans that encourage mental, physical and emotional health through our compassion­ate services.

As we continue to celebrate Heart Health Month, we hope you will take the opportunit­y to assess your own health and take action to improve in areas that need attention. By doing so, you can live your best and most fulfilling life — no matter your age.

About Griswold Home Care: With 168 locations in 29 states, Griswold Home Care is one of the country’s top home care companies, delivering compassion­ate care 24/7 to its clients. Its purpose is to give people the help they need to live in the place they love. Through this purpose, Griswold Home Care helps adults maintain quality of life despite advanced age or onset of illness through services including companion care, home services, personal care, and respite care. Founded by the late Jean Griswold in 1982, the company has maintained its founder’s profound sense of empathy for older and disabled adults and those living with chronic conditions. For more informatio­n, visit www.griswoldho­mecare. com or call 215-402-0200.

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