In February of 1999, I received a call that my dad was in the hospital after having a heart attack. He had to have a double bypass and spend several days in the hospital recovering. He was only 48 years old. This was eye-opening for the rest of us, so we began making small changes – such as eliminating salt – in order to help my dad get stronger and to help the rest of us work towards a healthier heart.
Protect Your Heart
19 years later, I still rarely use salt. We don’t keep it on the table and use it sparingly when we cook. It was an easy lifestyle change for all us which made a big difference in my dad’s diet. Now, of course, that wasn’t the only change that happened, but it was a start. The best part? He hasn’t had another heart attack. Making those important adjustments in his life improved his blood pressure, as well as his overall health.
My paternal grandfather, my dad’s dad, lived most of his adult life with heart disease before passing away after having a heart attack. Knowing this, we were more vigilant about making sure my dad stuck to lifestyle changes to protect the heart, including:
- Monitor high blood pressure – Because it’s asymptomatic, high blood pressure can be an extremely deceptive risk factor for heart disease. One way to counter that risk is to monitor your blood pressure regularly. The Omron EVOLV, Omron’s latest innovation, is a portable, wireless upper-arm blood pressure monitor that is clinically validated for accuracy and has received FDA clearance. There are not tubes, wires, or tabletop unit, making it easy to monitor your blood pressure anywhere, anytime. The Omron Connect App then helps to chart and graph your data so you easily can track it over time and view the trends in your numbers. Not to mention, you are then able to easily email your heart health data to your doctors or family members in real-time as needed.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet – Stay away from foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium. This is why we removed the salt from the table and limited it in the foods we prepared. You should also limit calories consumed from added sugars in addition to limiting your alcohol intake.
- Get active – Do your best to get up and get moving at least 30 minutes a day. When you hear people talk about doing “cardio” at the gym, this is what they are doing. Regular exercise helps reduce high blood pressure and stimulates good blood circulation, therefore benefiting both your heart and your overall health.
- Manage stress – Although easy to say, learning to manage stress can improve your physical and mental health. Stress contributes to high blood pressure and other cardiovascular risks, so find a way to cope with your stress and keep your anger in check.
- Break the habit – As mentioned above, if you must drink alcohol, do it in moderation or stop altogether. Also, quit smoking. With each puff, you temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure. Not to mention, it leads to clumping in the blood vessels further increasing your risk for a heart attack.
- Manage other health conditions – High cholesterol and diabetes both increase the risk for heart disease, therefore increasing your risk for a heart attack or stroke. Work with your doctor to put together a treatment plan that will help manage your health conditions and keep them under control.
You don’t have to wait until you’ve had a heart attack to start making these lifestyle changes. Be proactive now and lower your risk before you find that it’s too late.
Colby and I have been monitoring our blood pressure over the last few weeks and can tell which were high-stress days. With our new cleaner-eating diet and more active lifestyle, we hope to further manage the numbers and work towards a more healthy heart. After all, we have a 5K to run in just a couple of weeks!
What lifestyle changes to protect your heart are you currently making?
Cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death, and stroke is the top cause of adult disability in the U.S., with high blood pressure being the leading risk factor for both these conditions. Omron is working towards educating the public on the importance of monitoring your blood pressure at home, so that with greater awareness of your numbers, the incidence of one’s first encounter with hypertension will hopefully not be a life-threatening cardiac event.
The Omron EVOLV blood pressure monitor easily fits on the upper arm and clearly displays a blood pressure reading on the face of the device with a press of a button. Purchase the EVOLV today and take the Going for Zero™ pledge to further reduce your risk and live a more heart-healthy lifestyle.