You can reduce your risk for heart disease

February is American Heart Month. If you have diabetes, you are at higher risk for having heart disease. You can improve the health of your heart. There are several risk factors for heart disease. Many can be prevented or controlled.

Here are ways you can reduce your risk for heart disease:

  • Talk to your health care provider about heart disease: Share your health history. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked. Ask if taking an aspirin each day is right for you.
  • Control your blood pressure and cholesterol: High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease. If your blood pressure or cholesterol is high, take steps to lower it. Take small steps to eat healthier foods. Get more exercise. Take your blood pressure and cholesterol medicines as prescribed.
  • Eat healthy: What you eat has a big impact on your heart health. When planning your meals and snacks, try to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables; check the labels on your food and choose those with the lowest sodium; limit foods with high amounts of saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol; and cook at home more often. Limit sauces, mixes and “instant” products such as macaroni and cheese and hamburger dish mixes. Rinse canned foods, like canned meat, before using.
  • Get moving: Obesity can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. Being physically active most days of the week will help keep you at a healthy weight, and will help lower high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Try to walk at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. For example, you could take a brisk, 10-minute walk three times a day, five days a week.
  • Use tobacco in traditional ways only: Smoking and chewing tobacco greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you smoke or chew, get help to quit. If you don’t smoke or chew, don’t start. Try to avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Remember your ABCS: An easy way to remember how to reduce your risk for heart disease is to remember “ABCS” — appropriate aspirin therapy for those who need it, blood pressure control, cholesterol management, and smoking/chewing cessation. Talk to your health care provider about heart health ABCS. The heart health ABCS will help you avoid heart disease and live a longer, healthier life.

For more information on how to have a healthy heart, contact your health care provider.

Adapted from information found at

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