February is American Heart Month – the perfect time to take a pulse on your heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of one in three Americans. However, there are simple, yet important measures you can take to reduce your risk and keep your heart strong.
Maintain a heart-healthy diet
Certain foods can help lower your blood pressure, manage your cholesterol and otherwise keep your heart performing at its best. Foods high in good fats – such as salmon and walnuts – help your blood flow and lower certain types of fats that can lead to heart disease. Similarly, raspberries and other fruits are full of polyphenols, antioxidants that police your body and eliminate free radicals. Other tasty heart-healthy foods include dark chocolate, chickpeas, avocados, olive oil and oatmeal.
Find an exercise routine
Just like any other muscle in your body, your heart needs an exercise routine to stay strong and healthy. Regular exercise can burn calories, lower blood pressure, reduce “bad” cholesterol and increase “good” cholesterol. Cardiovascular and aerobic exercises are ideal for heart health, but any physical activity can be beneficial. Be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine.
Know what resources are available
Today’s patients have access to myriad online health resources, including cholesterol trackers, nutrition apps and heart-healthy recipes. Your doctor knows your specific health profile, and can recommend online health tools and resources based on your needs. Be sure to ask for some recommendations at your next visit – you might be surprised to find out how modern technology can help you access the best health information.
At the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), patients inspire us to continue our mission. Stories like Doreen’s struggle with cholesterol remind us that all Americans need access to patient resources, and, whether it is information on patient assistance programs or directions to nearby free clinics, PPA has resources that may be able to help.
If you or someone you love struggles with affordable access to medicines there are resources available that may be able to help: The Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA) helps connect patients with patient assistance programs that provide free or nearly free prescription medicines. For more information, visit www.pparx.org.