Do you know the leading cause of death among Americans? If you guessed cancer, you’re wrong—the leading killer among both American women and men is heart disease.

February is American Heart Month, which is why our team at AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga wants to talk about why your heart health is so important and how you can protect your heart.

Why Is Heart Health Important?

As we mentioned above, heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. One in four deaths are related to the heart—that adds up to more than 640,000 deaths each year.

Many of the risk factors for heart disease are what’s known as “silent,” meaning they cause no visible symptoms. That’s why it is important to take steps all the time to take optimal care of your heart.

Ways to Strengthen Your Heart

  • Get moving more often, aiming for 150 minutes of exercise each week.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat heart-healthy foods, such as fatty fish and olive oil.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night.
  • Practice stress management techniques.

How Does Blood Pressure Affect the Heart?

Blood pressure is the pressure of your blood circulating through the walls of your blood vessels. When you experience high blood pressure, your arteries are working harder to ensure the blood flows through your body.

Over time, this can damage both your blood vessels and your heart, putting strain on both. This can increase your risk of both heart attack and stroke. It’s important to have your blood pressure checked regularly and to take steps to maintain normal blood pressure.

Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure

  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Cut back on sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Eat more potassium and less sodium.
  • Avoid processed food.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Reduce stress.

Regular checkups are one key part of maintaining good heart health. Visit AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga today—no appointment is needed.