Norman Regional Health System

Woman making heart with hands

Monday, January 25, 2021

This Valentine’s Day — and throughout the year — take time to be kind to your heart.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. People with heart disease may also be at a higher risk of developing a more severe form of COVID-19 if infected with the virus, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you or a loved one has heart disease, it’s important to monitor your health closely by knowing your numbers (weight, body mass index, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure) and scheduling regular checkups with your healthcare team. In many cases, death or serious complications related to heart disease can be prevented by making certain lifestyle changes.

 Top Risk Factors 

Your risk for developing heart disease is heightened if you:

  • Have high cholesterol, high blood pressure and/or elevated blood sugar levels
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight
  • Do not get adequate daily/weekly physical activity
  • Regularly eat food and drink beverages high in fat, calories, sodium and/or sugar

The American Heart Association offers a simple tool to help determine your risk. Find it here.  

Ways to Reduce Your Risk

  • Reduce your cholesterol (if elevated): High cholesterol can result in the development of plaque that can clog your arteries. To keep your cholesterol within normal ranges, consider making changes to your diet and exercise routine. In certain instances, you may need medication to manage the condition. It’s also important to speak with your primary care provider to monitor and better understand your cholesterol levels to ensure optimal health.
  • Commit to a healthy diet: Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of low-fat proteins and high-fiber foods that are low in sodium and sugar. Check out these heart-healthy eating tips. Also, pay attention to what you are drinking. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, beverages account for almost half (47 percent) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population. They also account for nearly 20 percent of a person’s total caloric intake. Opt for water and low-fat milk rather than sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened drinks.
  • Stay active: Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week — that’s about 20 to 30 minutes each day. Children and teens should participate in at least one hour of physical activity daily. Moderate exercise includes brisk walks, dancing and biking at a speed of under 10 miles per hour.
  • Lose weight: If you are overweight or obese, losing weight — even a small amount — can help decrease your risk of developing heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Work with your primary care provider to develop your weight loss plan. Norman Regional’s Journey Clinic may also be able to help. The comprehensive program includes both medical and surgical options for patients wanting to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Quit smoking: Smoking causes a narrowing of blood vessels. This can increase your risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Visit www.okhelpline.com or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) for help with quitting.

Other ways to stay healthy include getting adequate sleep (at least seven hours daily for adults) and limiting the consumption of alcohol.

Also, don’t forget to get your flu vaccination, wear a face mask, be diligent about hand washing and cleaning high-touch surfaces, avoid gathering in large groups and stay at least six feet away from others.      

Norman Regional Health System remains committed to your health. Learn more about our telemedicine offerings and stay up-to-date on Norman Regional’s COVID-19 response efforts, which includes details on what to do if you think you may have COVID-19.