With Valentine's Day upon us, we trust you've already bought all the flowers and candy your sweetie may desire.
It's always worth celebrating a day when you give your heart to another. But it's also a pretty good time to remind ourselves that the ultimate gift may be making sure that your heart remains healthy.
We asked Dr. Andrew Rauh, a cardiologist with DuPage Medical Group on staff at Edward-Elmhurst Health, for some tips for keeping our hearts healthy. Here's what he said …
Zero smoking or tobacco products.
Quitting the use of tobacco is the single most important thing a person can do to improve the length and quality of his or her life. This includes cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and smokeless tobacco.
Eat five servings of fruit/vegetables a day.
Figure out a way to mix these servings into breakfast, lunch, dinner and between-meal snacks so you incorporate simple sugars into your diet.
Exercise 30 minutes five days a week.
You don't have to be a triathlete or a marathoner, but you do need to get out and move. This could be walking in your neighborhood or even gardening. Find something you enjoy at an intensity that challenges you.
Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27 or lower.
This is a person's percentage of body fat. A healthy body weight is one of the best ways to protect your heart. Obesity can lead to high cholesterol, diabetes and stroke.
Blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL.
Keeping this level below 100 will help prevent pre-diabetes (100-125) or diabetes (126 and above), which can damage nerves and blood vessels and lead to heart disease.
6. Blood pressure less than 120/80.
High blood pressure (140/90 and higher) is a major risk factor for heart disease. A well-balanced diet, including monitoring of your salt/sodium intake, and exercise can help reduce blood pressure.
Blood cholesterol 200 or below.
High cholesterol (above 200 mg/dL) plays a major role in the development of atherosclerosis, or hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which, in turn, raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. Diet and exercise can help lower your overall cholesterol level.