Schedule yearly check ups with your doctor to check blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.
Every day during the weeks before Valentine's Day, Martha Lowry sent an e-mail to her colleagues at Purdue University Calumet, speaking to them about matters of the heart.
Lowry, the school's wellness director, wrote about the physical and the emotional heart, touching on subjects like blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular exercise as well as heart-to-heart talks and counting your blessings.
"They are connected," Lowry said. "Stress or emotional problems can lead to physical problems.
Emotional health is good for your physical health."
February isn't only a time for Valentine's Day lovefests; Congress has also designated it American Heart Month since 1963, according to the American Heart Association.
During February, the AHA beefs up its efforts to promote research and education on heart disease and stroke.
Here are some heart-healthy tips to remember.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
Tips for Taking Charge of Your Health
- Chest discomfort: Be mindful of discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This can happen in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath: This often happens along with chest discomfort, but also can occur before.
- Other signs include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- Schedule yearly check-ups with your doctor to have your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels checked.
- Exercise 15 to 30 minutes a day, even if it's by stepping, marching or jogging in place while you watch television.
- Take a water bottle wherever you go and sip it throughout the day. It will keep you hydrated.
- Keep packages of unhealthy food hidden. Instead, keep raw vegetables and fruits ready for when you want a snack.
- Keep your cholesterol down by eating foods low in saturated fat, such as lean chicken or turkey, fruits and vegetables, low-fat yogurt and pasta.
- Limit your salt intake. It may be disguised on food labels as sodium alginate, sodium sulfite, sodium caseinate, sodium hydroxide, disodium phosphate, sodium benzoate, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and sodium citrate.
- Don't smoke. If you smoke, quit.
- Avoid fad diets. If you want to lose weight, eat 200 to 300 calories less per day and exercise at least 30 minutes five days a week.