By William Golden, MD MACP
During American Heart Month in February, we are reminded that we should care for our hearts with good daily habits for life-long health and vitality.
You can begin by creating daily routines for yourself or your family that promote heart health:
- Eat less salt
- Maintain a healthy weight and fat intake
- Monitor your blood pressure and try to keep it under 130/80
- Reduce your alcohol intake – a heart toxin
- Get blood tests from your doctor so you can know your cholesterol levels
- Exercise regularly with activities that get your heart pumping like walking, swimming, or bicycling
- Never use tobacco products
Your regular diet can support your heart health. Choose less simple sugars like candy and soda, more vegetables like spinach or broccoli, and protein sources that are less fatty like eggs, nuts, beans, or fish. A better diet pays off after years of healthy eating – so why not start this month and make a new commitment to better meals and snacks? Find healthy recipes for meals and snacks.
While many of these ideas apply to adults, kids also should adopt healthy diets, exercise, and weight goals early in life.
Your medical team can monitor your health and identify other risks to your heart like diabetes or structural problems inside your heart. Regular check-ups can help to find issues early before they become major problems. Arkansas Medicaid and ARKids First cover checkups for eligible children and adults who may be worried about these chronic conditions.
Sometimes loving those around us begins by taking care of our own health. Start the journey toward a healthier heart today – and motivate a loved one to join you!
Learn more about Arkansas Medicaid and ARKids First at humanservices.arkansas.gov/learn-about-programs/healthcare-programs.
About the Author:
William Golden, MD MACP, is the medical director for Arkansas Medicaid and the Office of Health Information Technology.
He is a Professor of Internal Medicine and Public Health at UAMS and has served on numerous national advisory councils pertaining to health care quality and safety.