The American Red Cross aims to help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies in a variety of ways. Dedicated employees and volunteers meet the basic needs – shelter, food, and clothing – of those affected by natural and manmade disasters, communicate emergency messages between those serving in our Armed Forces and their loved ones back home, and teach lifesaving skills like water safety, first aid, and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to community members of all ages.
But the American Red Cross can only do so much. At some point we – the people the organization has informed and trained and supported – have to do our part. So that we can respond swiftly and appropriately should an unavoidable crisis affect us, we need to build emergency preparedness kits, create disaster action plans, stock first aid kits, and review first aid skills. And so that we can lessen our risk of suffering from an (in many cases) avoidable crisis – such as a heart attack caused by an unhealthy lifestyle, for example – we need to take prevention into our own hands.
So today, in honor of Heart Health Month and Valentine’s Day, here are a few tips to help you strengthen and protect your heart.
- Visit your doctor for an annual check-up, even if you feel healthy.
- Maintain a healthy weight for your height and build.
- Exercise (at a moderate intensity level, or working up to a moderate intensity level) at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
- Make healthy food choices (fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, and non- or low-fat dairy) and avoid processed food as often as possible.
- Drink more water and cut down on salt consumption.
- Manage blood pressure and control cholesterol by eating foods low in saturated and trans fats.
- Quit smoking.
- Stay positive. Make small changes, one at a time if necessary, and recognize that the journey is toward a healthy lifestyle, not a perfect lifestyle.
- Give yourself credit. Set small goals and reward yourself (with treats other than sweets) when you reach them.
This year, be your own Valentine and give yourself the gift of a healthy heart!
As always, knowing how to recognize the signs of a heart attack and perform CPR can save lives and are therefore of the utmost importance. Click here to find an American Red Cross First Aid and CPR class in your area.
Source: University of Wisconsin Health