Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but – unlike some diseases – heart disease is both preventable and controllable. February is American Heart Month – an ideal time to focus on ways to prevent and control heart disease.

Everyone can do something to improve their heart health – from those who are fit and focused on prevention to those who are demonstrating leading indicators for heart disease such as high cholesterol or a high body mass index.
• Take it one step at a time – Make small changes that build on each other for healthy habits that are more likely to last
• Eat a healthy diet –
o Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day
o Eat foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol and that are high in fiber to help prevent high cholesterol
o Limit salt to lower your blood pressure
• Exercise regularly – The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in exercise for at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week. Check with your doctor to see if you have any restrictions or additional steps you should be taking based on your specific health status and goals
• Don’t smoke – Smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease
• Follow your doctor’s advice – Take any medicine your doctor prescribes.  Have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked as requested by your doctor.  Also, avoid alcohol if your blood pressure is high

This month and all year long, lengthen your life by loving your heart!
* Peg Fitkowski, RD, CDN, is the Director of Nutrition Services for Meals on Wheels for WNY.  Homebound seniors may be a fit for Meals on Wheels delivery; 716-822-2002.