Our heart is a powerful organ that constantly works, never pausing to rest. Having a healthy heart gives us more energy, helps our organs function better, keeps our bodies stronger and ultimately helps us live longer. The better care we take of our heart, the more physically and emotionally happy we will be now and in the future.

The reality is that people young and old develop heart disease. As we get older, however, we become more susceptible to suffering from heart disease. There are some risk factors that are in our control and if you have them and choose not to attempt to control them, you are more likely to develop heart disease and have a heart attack.

As part of its community classroom education series, Angels Care Home Health strives to educate the community on how to maintain a healthy heart and prevent heart disease. Following are some helpful tips and information that go a long way in helping you protect your heart because heart healthy living is beneficial to your overall health.

Know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack:

• Chest pain or discomfort

• Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach • Shortness of breath

• Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats

Risk factors:

• Are a senior

• Have a family history of heart disease

• Smoking

• High blood pressure

• High blood cholesterol

• Being overweight or obese

• Eat an unhealthy diet

• Don’t exercise

• Have high blood sugar due to insulin resistance or diabetes

Take these steps now to protect your heart:

• Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications.

• Get regular heart health screenings (adults should get one screening per year from their primary physician).

• Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol levels in a healthy range.

• Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.

• Take a brisk 10-minute walk, three times a day, five days a week; make sure to consult your physician before starting a new exercise program or increasing activity level.

• Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible.

If you have or are at risk of having heart disease, there are resources available to help you take control of your health and minimize your risk of heart attack. Most importantly, talk to your health care provider, follow the instructions they give you and find support in friends and family.

The health of your heart is in your hands. When you follow a heart healthy living plan, you are taking steps to ensure a healthy, active, productive and independent lifestyle.

Angela Torrez, RN, is the administrator for Angels Care Home Health, serving Waxahachie and the surrounding areas. She may be reached at 972-923-1853 or by visiting the website at angelscarehealth.com.

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