Heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. It’s the leading cause of death for both men and women. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack. You can greatly reduce your risk of CAD through lifestyle changes, and in some case, medication. Since 1963, February has been celebrated as American Heart Month to urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease.
Here are a few key ways to make a difference in your and your family’s heart health:
• Find a time to talk. Talking with your loved ones about heart disease can be awkward, but it’s important. In fact, it could save a life. At the dinner table, in the car, or even via text, have a heart-to-heart with your loved ones about improving heart health as a family.
• Encourage healthy eating habits. Even small changes can make a big difference. Suggest making healthier versions of your favorite family recipes. Choose items low in sodium, added sugar, and trans fats, and make sure to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Promote physical activity. Encourage your family members to aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Take more walks, join an exercise class, or challenge the whole family to a friendly fitness competition.
• Show support. Someone who feels supported is more likely to quit smoking. Have a heart-to-heart with your loved ones about tobacco use.
• Check in on health care. Remind family members to get their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked regularly by a health care provider. Are you or your family members already on medication to control their risk factors? Set up a reminder system using a phone app or pillbox.