By Margaret Jenkins
February is the month for taking control of your heart health. Our heart is the organ that pumps blood through our body to both supply needed nutrients and oxygen to create the fuel needed to live, work and play. It also transports waste products that need to be eliminated through the blood. Our lives depend on this muscle to keep us healthy and active and able to enjoy life.
Ohioans continue to follow the national trends showing heart disease death rates are declining more slowly than they have in the past, especially among adults ages 35 to 64. Not only are more younger adults dying of heart disease, but their rates of risk factors—such as physical inactivity, tobacco use, and hypertension—are also increasing. For American Heart Month 2018, Million Hearts® is calling on younger Americans to take control of their heart health and reduce heart disease risk.
We are not immune to heart disease, but we can reduce our risk—at any age—through lifestyle changes and by managing medical conditions. Take control by joining with Clermont CAN members and OSU Extension to Take Charge of Your Heart Health.
• Find time to be active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Invite fitness buddies on an afternoon stroll, try an exercise class, or play a family pick-up game/sport.
• Make healthy eating a habit. Small changes in your eating habits can make a big difference. Try making healthier versions of your favorite recipes. How? Look for ways to lower sodium and trans fat, and add more fruits and vegetables.
• Quit tobacco—for good. Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products affects nearly every organ in your body, including your heart. Quitting can be tough, but it can be easier when you feel supported. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) today or start with Tips from Former Smokers®.
• Know your numbers. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease. Ask your health care team to check your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels regularly and help you take steps to control your levels.
• Stick to the script. Taking your medications can be tough, especially if you feel fine. But sticking with your medication routine is important for managing and controlling conditions that could put your heart at risk. Make sure to take medicines at the right time and in the prescribed amount.
If you need more motivation to Take Charge of Your Health, enroll in face-to-face local programs:
Million Hearts provides the ABCs of Heart Health to help individuals make positive lifestyle changes. This program is made possible through a partnership with OSU College of Nursing.
Dining with Diabetes cooking school and nutrition education program designed for people with pre-diabetes or diabetes and their family members and caregivers.
Clermont Coalition for Activity and Nutrition is composed of a diverse group of representatives who share common concerns about the impact obesity is having on county residents.
Partner with us to help save one million lives!
Margaret is an assistant professor and Family & Consumer Sciences educator at Ohio State University Extension based in Clermont County. Her work covers topics such as leadership development, health & wellness, food insecurity & family financial wellness. An Educator by trade, she has experience in secondary, community & higher education. Her efforts support the motto “Better Lives. Stronger Communities.”