With the advent of Valentine's Day, it's a good time to remember that February is also National Heart Health month.
Here are some things to do in February for the health of your heart:
Get a complete physical. Your doctor will check for risk factors for heart disease, and may do an electrocardiogram (ECG). If you can't get to the doctor, get your lipids and a fasting blood sugar done. Diabetes is one of the leading contributors to coronary heart disease, and bad cholesterol numbers can add up to heart disease as well.
Know your family history. If heart disease, heart attacks, high cholesterol, stroke or diabetes runs in your family, you may be at risk as well. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and what you can do to prevent these events in your life.
Increase your activity levels. Health care experts recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. Start out slowly and build up. Exercise will help bring down high blood sugar and can help change bad cholesterol numbers.
Change the way you eat. Cut back on saturated fats and add monosaturated fats to your diet. Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Add more color to your diet by bringing the number of servings of vegetables and fruit you eat to at least five, and work up to nine. Consider eating a meatless main meal once a week, and try to add fish as a regular meal choice as well.
Don't forget about the emotional side of your heart. If you've been feeling sad or irritable, take a depression screening test and talk to your healthcare provider about the results. This time of year often gives Copper Country residents cabin fever. Make an effort to get out and be with people.
Take steps this month to keep your ticker happy and healthy.