In honor of American Heart Month, we’re sharing five ways to help keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of developing cardiovascular conditions. Remember to make heart health a priority every month of the year!
1) Reduce Your Sodium Intake
Did you know that nine out of 10 Americans consume too much sodium? Excess levels of sodium – often found in products like canned soups and deli meats – can increase the risk of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Make sure to choose lower-sodium foods and take the American Heart Association’s pledge to reduce the amount of sodium you are eating. Check out their infographic for tips on lowering your sodium consumption and read Million Hearts’ shopping tips.
2) Get Active
Being physically active is one of the most important ways to prevent heart disease and stroke. Can’t manage strenuous activities like running? Don’t worry. Physical activity includes anything that makes you move your body and burns calories. Learn more about physical fitness guidelines for adults ages 65 and over from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity.
3) Quit Smoking (Or Don’t Start)
Smoking increases your risk of coronary heart disease. In addition, smoking increases your risk for peripheral artery disease and aortic aneurysm. Check out the National Cancer Institute’s Smokefree.gov resources for quitting smoking. Medicare Part B provides benefits for smoking and tobacco use cessation.
4) Focus on Mental Wellness
Did you know that there is a link between your mental and physical health? While stress, anxiety and depression have not been proven to directly cause heart disease, they may affect behaviors and factors that increase risk, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating. Learn more about the connection between depression and chronic conditions in these publications from the National Institute of Mental Health.
5) Take Advantage of Medicare’s Preventive Services & Other Benefits
Medicare pays for many preventive services to keep you healthy, including exams, screenings, and counseling and education programs. It also covers cardiac rehabilitation programs for patients who have experienced certain conditions or undergone certain procedures. Learn more by reading the official government booklet Medicare & You 2016.