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Six Tips for a Heart Healthy Lifestyle

The numbers are staggering. One in three Americans will die from heart attack, stroke or cardiovascular disease each year. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, claiming more lives each year than all cancer deaths combined.

However there is good news. If we take ownership of our heart health and make simple lifestyle changes we can dramatically reduce our number one health threat. As we celebrate Heart Month, we encourage you to take control of your heart health by implementing these simple, six heart healthy tips into your everyday lifestyle.

1. Eat healthy. This means foods without nutrition labels. Remember to eat foods your body needs, not what you want. This will require healthier, fresh foods in your home and less processed foods in your pantries.
2. Don’t smoke. It’s one of the most lethal risk factors and is the greatest predictor that your first heart attack could lead to sudden death.
3. Stay active. We used to think that we would have to spend hours in the gym exercising. This is not the case. Just be active. Get your steps in during the day and get up and get moving.
4. Limit alcohol. The statistics suggest that we should not exceed one to two alcoholic beverages a day for men or exceed one alcoholic beverage a day for women.  You don’t have to give it up completely but indulge in moderation.
5. Maintain an ideal body weight. Take your height and your weight and calculate your body mass index or your BMI. This is easy to do by pulling out your phone or getting on your computer. Go to saintlukeskc.org/bmi to figure out your BMI so you can know what your ideal body mass index is and be able to maintain it.
6. Avoid prolonged sitting. Sitting is the new smoking. Again, just move. We challenge everyone to not sit more than 30 minutes at a time. When you are watching television get up and march in place on the commercial breaks. If you are working on the computer all day stand up and do some toe rises every 30 minutes. It doesn’t have to be pretty, just move. 

If you adopt these six tips in your everyday life and are disciplined you can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by 95 percent. By doing just two of these, you can reduce your risk by 92 percent. We pride ourselves on the care we bring to the community’s hearts through Saint Luke’s Mid American Heart Institute.