• 72°

JODY HOLTON — Getting to the heart of the matter…care about heart health

Friday (Feb. 5) was Wear Red Day. The first Friday of every February, which is designated as American Heart Month, the nation comes together, igniting a wave of red from coast to coast.

First, some sobering statistics: About 2,150 Americans die each day from heart disease, one every 40 seconds. The American Heart Association reports 610,000 lives are lost each year to heart disease, making it the No. 1 killer.

Good heart health should begin at birth; unfortunately, many folks wait until that first “cardiac event.” Parents and caregivers are essential decision-makers when it comes to the nutrition, physical activity and health needs of their children.

Help your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits.

We are bombarded by ads about how delicious fat/sugar/salt filled foods are. And you know what? It’s true.

I am not going to tell you never eat that junk. I will tell you, eat healthy 85 percent of the time and you may have an occasional treat. I do not believe in rewarding with food, especially bad food. The idea is moderation and not to junk food binge.

Making some small changes can have a big effect on your heart health. First and foremost, MOVE MORE. Yep, it’s just that simple.

Walk, park your car a little further out in the parking lot, walk around the block, I know one lady who would walk the indoor perimeter of the local “big box store.” There are plenty of indoor areas to walk if you would feel safer there than outdoors.

Eat Real Food. Yes, the kind without nutrition labels — lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, along with lean meats.

Minimize the use of boxed, bagged and canned foods. Frozen veggies are actually higher in nutrition, as they are frozen at peak quality levels, rather than sitting on store shelves for who knows how long.

Healthy does not mean tasteless, season with herbs and spices. Salt, I love you, but you are breaking my heart … love your heart, lose the salt.

Be especially careful with anything labeled LOW FAT/LOW SUGAR. To compensate for flavor, the low fat foods are usually high in sugar and the low sugar foods are high in fat.

Watch Your Waist. A big belly puts you at risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and other conditions. A waist circumference of 40 inches or more in men or 35 inches or more in women spells danger.

Get Stress in Check. Stress can make your blood vessels constrict and cause the plaque in your arteries to rupture, leading to a heart attack or stroke. You can’t get rid of stress, but you can learn ways to deal with it.

Fixes can range from practicing yoga to making some life changes to eliminate stress triggers.

Ditch the Tobacco. Period. All tobacco, smokeless and Vape too, just say no. Nicotine in any form is bad for your heart and lungs and can lead to erectile dysfunction, amputated limbs and a host of other problems.

Stay on Top of Screenings. Yes, see your doctor regularly, have your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure monitored. High blood pressure is a silent killer; it can be very bad before symptoms ever present themselves.

Head off potential issues before they become a problem.

A little effort on your part now, will lead to a long healthy life. Hey, that is a pretty good thing!

Jody Holton writes about health for Port Arthur Newsmedia. She can be reached at jholton3@gt.rr.com.