It’s February – Valentine’s Day is a little over a week away. That time of year where thoughts, images and plans go to things of the heart. Whether this time is sweet, bittersweet or downright salty for you, take a moment and turn the focus from the feelings of your heart to the condition of your heart.

A broken heart can’t kill you – but heart disease can.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and it kills more women than all forms of cancer combined. Eighty percent of women ages 40 to 60 have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Research shows that even one risk factor can double your chance of developing heart disease. 

Start taking action today to protect your heart. Here are some helpful steps:

  1. Eat well.  DASH(the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension eating plan) can help protect your heart. This plan recommends limiting fat, cholesterol and salt and focusing meals and snacks around fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products, which can help protect your heart. 
  2. Be consistently active.  The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate activity 5 days per week, or 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for heart health. Consistency is key.
  3. Get regular health screenings. See your doctor for evaluations of blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk for heart disease.  Use BMI (Body Mass Index) and waist circumference measurements along with recommendations from your physician to determine a heart healthy weight for you.
  5. Don’t smoke.Need help quitting? Check out www.smokefree.gov
Incorporating these steps into your lifestyle can reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 82 percent. If action is needed in your life in any of the above areas, start today. Friday, (February 7th) GO RED. Wear red – or even better – wear red and snap a picture of yourself working out or eating right.  Then share it to encourage others and help raise awareness about women and heart disease. Use #GoRED and #ConsistencyClub (I’d love to see what you are doing).

We can’t control all things of the heart – but we can and must do our part to influence it’s condition.  Pray, plan and go show your heart some love!

References: American Heart Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Heart Foundation, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Image Sources: drmomnd.com, sheknows.com, goredforwomen.org, fitsugar.com

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