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Give your heart a boost with these 10 heart health tips



It’s time to get your heart in shape and there’s no better reason than February’s Heart Month. Living a long and a healthy life is simple with these easy-to-follow heart health tips from Saint Mary’s Center for Cardiac Care:

1. Maintain a healthy weight. Weight correlates with heart disease and too much fat increases the risks of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.

2. Quit smoking. The American Heart Association (AHA) calls smoking “the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States.” It increases the risk of coronary heart disease, decreases levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and makes the blood more likely to form dangerous clots, among other problems.

3. Exercise. Regular exercise reduces blood pressure, increases HDL and improves the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which helps control blood sugar. Not to mention, it increases your energy levels!

4. Know your numbers. There are three important measures that increase the risk of heart disease if they rise above the normal range: blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose. It is recommended to keep your blood pressure levels below 130/85, total cholesterol below 200 and glucose under 100. Additionally, keeping your BMI level under 25 and your waistline at 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men will help you maintain an ideal weight.

5. Eat healthy. Stick to national guidelines, which recommend eating at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day, at least 3 ounces of whole grains per day, a minimum of two servings of fish each week, less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day and no more than 450 calories worth of sugar-sweetened beverages in one week.

6. Reduce fat intake. Cutting your fat intake to no more than 30 percent of your daily calories will significantly decrease your risk for heart disease.

7. Alcohol in moderation. Moderate consumption of alcohol can raise your HDL levels, reduce blood clot formation and help prevent artery damage.

8. Have a happy heart. Have a positive outlook on life. Research shows that those who are happy tend to have lower levels of the potentially harmful hormone cortisol and other stress-inducing chemicals.

9. Get a pet. Owning pets has been proven to lower the rate of heart disease related deaths and improve heart and lung function. Our furry friends can greatly contribute to a healthier and more active life.

10. Laugh. It’s true, laughing makes you healthier. Laughter helps relieve stress and promotes the healthy function of blood vessels.

Following these simple and fun tips will help you improve your overall health and reduce your risk for heart disease. So get started on a path to healthy living.

Tell us what heart month means to you by entering Saint Mary’s Heart Health Facebook contest. Simply submit a photo and brief description and you will be entered to win an iPad. Only one entry per person and entrants must be 18 years of age or older and reside in California or Nevada. Deadline for submissions is Monday, Feb. 28. Visit www.facebook.com/saintmarysreno now to enter.

To learn more about Saint Mary’s Center for Cardiac Care, visit www.saintmarysreno.org.

About Saint Mary’s

Saint Mary’s Network is a fully-integrated, faith-based health system in Reno, Nev. founded in 1908 by the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael. The network is comprised of Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, an acute-care hospital, providing inpatient, outpatient and wellness services; Saint Mary’s Health Plans, a statewide insurance provider with more than 40,000 members; and Saint Mary’s Medical Group, a network of physicians and other health professionals offering primary and urgent care, retail clinics and specialty healthcare. A member of Catholic Healthcare West, Saint Mary’s is dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of our community. For more information, visit our website at www.saintmarysreno.org.

About Catholic Healthcare West

Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), headquartered in San Francisco, CA, is a system of 40 hospitals and medical centers in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Founded in 1986, it is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health care systems and the largest private hospital system in California. CHW is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality, affordable health care services with special attention to the poor and underserved. The CHW network of nearly 10,000 physicians and approximately 54,000 employees provides health care services to more than five million people annually. In 2010, CHW provided more than $1.3 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed patient care. For more information, please visit our website at www.chwHEALTH.org.

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