Older and Wiser

Adult hands cradling child's hands, which are holding a heart shaped object with heartbeat lines on it.

5 Important Tips For a Healthy Heart

February is American Heart Health Month, a terrific time to focus on your cardiovascular health.

Heart disease is one of the major causes of death in the U.S., killing more people than all forms of cancer combined. A heart attack occurs approximately every 40 seconds. These scary statistics should provide great motivation for improving your heart health. Here are 5 important tips for a healthy heart:

1. Quit smoking. Smoking is a major cause of cardiovascular disease; it raises triglycerides in the blood, lowers good cholesterol, and damages cells that line blood vessels. It causes thickening and narrowing of blood vessel walls, and makes blood sticky and more likely to clot, which can block blood flow to the brain and heart. Breathing secondhand smoke is also detrimental to heart health.

2. Exercise regularly. Know your target heart rate, and learn how to reach it during exercise. The American Heart Association recommends five 30-minute exercise sessions per week.

3. Eat a healthy diet. Heart-healthy foods help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, and also reduce inflammation in the body. Include foods like salmon and other omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish, dark berries, seeds and nuts, steel-cut oats, dark green leafy vegetables, green tea, and olive oil, among other superfoods, in your diet.

4. Get enough sleep. Sleep helps your body repair itself and function well throughout the day. Most adults need about seven hours of sleep each night. Lack of proper sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and higher stress, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.

5. Get an annual physical. This should include monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and other heart health benchmarks. The measures will help determine your risk for heart disease and allow your physician to offer correct advice regarding lifestyle changes and, if necessary, medication.

For more information, please contact:

Newton Village

110 N. 5th Avenue W

Newton, Iowa 50208