February Is American Heart Month

Meter on wrist showing heart rate

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One out of every four deaths each year is caused by heart disease. Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is severely reduced or blocked. Men are more likely to develop heart disease after age 45. Women have a higher risk after age 55 or following menopause.

Consider the following steps you can take to help protect your heart.

  1. Know your numbers: High blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight can increase your risk of heart disease. Talk to your provider about ways to improve your numbers.
  2. Stop smoking: To quit, contact 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).
  3. Model your plate using the DASH Eating Plan, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/dash-eating-plan: Choose more plant foods including vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Eat lean dairy and proteins including fish, skinless poultry, and beans. Use heart healthy fats such as canola and olive or vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds. Limit sodium, sugar-sweetened drinks, and desserts.
  4. Physical activity: Set a goal of at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Sitting less can help control weight, decrease stress, and improve sleep quality.
  5. Prioritize sleep: Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep a night.
  6. For more information, download the resource 28 Days Toward a Healthy Heart, www.nhlbi.nih.gov/resources/28-days-towards-healthy-heart.

Sources: NHLBI, go.iastate.edu/MAGKP8

Sleeping Is Time Well Spent

Person laying in bed reaching for alarm clock

Sleep is as important to our health as good diet and exercise. Adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and many people do not get enough. Quality sleep allows our brains and bodies to rebuild and repair. Lack of good sleep raises the risk of heart disease, obesity, stroke, and dementia.

Healthy sleep is not only the amount of time spent in bed, but also getting quality, uninterrupted rest on a consistent sleep schedule. Use these tips to give your body and brain the restful recharge it needs for optimum health:

  • Be physically active during the day.
  • Create a good sleep environment that is quiet, dark, and cool.
  • Go to bed and get up at a consistent time, even during weekends.
  • Remove electronic devices from the bedroom.
  • Avoid stimulants such as nicotine and caffeine.
  • Limit alcohol and large meals close to bedtime.
  • Talk to your health care provider if you have persistent sleeping issues.

For more information about sleep and sleeping disorders, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/sleep.

CDC, www.cdc.gov
National Institutes of Health, newsinhealth.nih.gov

Sleep for Overall Health

Lack of sleep is common, especially these days. Many Americans sacrifice sleep to get all their tasks done on any given day. In fact, 35% of Americans do not meet the recommended hours of sleep.

Adults need 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each night. Youth need 8 to 12 hours of sleep. Research has shown that sleep is just as important as good nutrition and exercise habits to keep your mind and body healthy.

Getting enough sleep can help lower your risk for heart disease and diabetes, maintain a healthy weight, think more clearly, and perform better in school and at work. Sleep may be related to body weight in youth of all ages. Inadequate sleep may interfere with hormone levels, which stimulate youth to eat more snacks and larger meals. A tired child is also more prone to sit on the couch rather than play outside.

Use these tips to get longer, better sleep.

  • Go to bed at the same time every night. Set and enforce regular bedtimes.
  • Keep phones, laptops and TVs out of the bedroom.
  • Avoid texting, watching TV, playing video games, or using a computer at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Do not eat in bed.
  • Create a calming nighttime routine for yourself and your kids– reading, listening to music, or talking about the day.

Good sleep is critical to your health, so make sure you get a good night’s sleep.

CDC, cdc.gov/sleep/data_statistics.html
Health.gov, health.gov
Healthy children, healthychildren.org
Eat right, www.eatright.org