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Wear Red Friday in Honor of National Heart Month
APS health care providers offer tips on staying heart healthy.
February 2, 2012
February is national heart month, and APS Employee Wellness is encouraging everyone to help kick it off by wearing red tomorrow, Feb. 3, in support of women’s heart health and the prevention of heart disease.
According to Lovelace Health System, more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer combined. Unfortunately, the killer isn't as easy to see. Heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood.
That's why Go Red for Women is asking people all across Albuquerque to participate in National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 3, to help raise awareness.
WellCall Inc., which compiles health data for APS and offers free advice and coaching for employees, provided 10 tips for staying heart healthy:
- Be active: Regular moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 days each week can greatly reduce your risk of developing heart disease and other health conditions. Go ice skating with your friends or take a stroll in your neighborhood.
- Eat a healthy diet low in sodium and salt: Too much salt is bad for your health and can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. The majority of the sodium consumed comes from processed, packaged foods. Read nutrition labels and choose foods with lower sodium.
- Relax: Let go of stress in your life by practicing deep breathing, socializing, or reading a book.
- Create your own heart-healthy dessert: Rather than giving your loved one a box of chocolates, prepare your own healthy dessert. For dessert ideas, go to http://www.eatingwell.com
- Quit Tobacco: Pledge to quit smoking. Smoking greatly increases your chance of heart attack and many other health conditions. Call a health coach or local quit line to start your quit plan.
- Cut down your alcohol consumption: Excessive drinking may lead to high blood pressure and permanent heart damage. If you do drink alcohol, make sure to limit your consumption to an average of one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Having a waist circumference over 40 inches for men or over 35 inches for women, or having a BMI over 25, can significantly increase your risk for heart disease. Check with your doctor to figure out an ideal weight range for you.
- Monitor your cholesterol: 96 million Americans have cholesterol levels over 200 mg/dL, putting them at high risk for heart disease. Everyone over the age of 20 should have their cholesterol levels measured at least once every 5 years and more frequently if they have an increased risk level.
- Know your blood pressure and keep it under control: More than 1 in 4 Americans have high blood pressure. Left unchecked, this disease can lead to some very serious consequences. Get screened every two years if your numbers are ideal. Get screened yearly or more if your blood pressure is high.
- Get enough sleep: Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine can all rev up your body and interrupt or prevent quality sleep. Cut out these substances as much as possible, especially within the evening hours.
Presbyterian offers walking tips that can help keep your heart healthy:
- Dress comfortably and wear good walking shoes.
- Walk on level ground. When possible, avoid steep hills.
- Walk before meals or walk an hour after eating.
- In bad weather, use a treadmill or stationary bike, or try walking at the mall.
- Warm up and cool down – start out slowly and gradually stop. After your warm up walk briskly but not to the point that you cannot talk comfortably to a companion. Walk at a comfortable level. Your heart rate should increase about 30 beats per minute above your resting rate. (Some people may be taking medications that limit the increase in heart rate.) If your heart rate increases by more than 30 beats per minute then you should slow down.
- Listen to your body’s warning symptoms. Contact your health care provider if you have any of the following problems during your walks: unusual shortness of breath, extreme dizziness, chest pressure or pain, severe palpitations.
Progressive Walking Program
- Start out walking for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Every day add a couple of minutes to your routine until you walking 30 to 60 minutes at a time.
- Walk at least 4 times a week.