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Is My Heart Healthy?

February is National Heart Health Month which means that it is time to shine a spotlight on our hearts. Everyone knows how important it is for our hearts to be healthy, our lives basically depend on it, but how do we know where our heart health stands? We cannot see our hearts on a regular basis, we cannot just call our hearts and check in with them, and most of us cannot afford to run to the doctor on a monthly basis just to see how our hearts are doing. So what can we do?

1. Check your pulse. For the average adult a normal resting heart rate is between 60 to 100 beats per minute. When you visit your physician ask them what your target resting heart rate is and then check it regularly to determine your heart rate multiply the number of beats per minute by three.

2. Pay attention to your breathing. If you are able to go for a brisk walk or climb stairs without being short of breath or feeling tightness in your chest, your heart is probably supplying oxygen to your blood cells efficiently.

3. Watch your energy levels. If your energy levels are usually low, it could be a sign that the heart is not functioning as well as it should. Sleep disorders, lack of sleep, and underlying conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure can all contribute to both low energy levels and cardiovascular disease.

4. Check your blood pressure. Blood pressure monitors are relatively inexpensive nowadays, buying one can be a great investment. Having a normal blood pressure is great evidence that your heart is working properly. A normal blood pressure is a blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is a systolic (top number) of 130 or higher or a diastolic (bottom number) reading of 90 or higher that stays over time. It is important to note that a single high reading or a period of high readings during a stressful time in your life does not necessarily mean there is anything wrong with your heart. Blood pressure readings fluctuate. You should see your physician if your blood pressure reading is high and stays high after multiple different checks. Also, make sure when you check your blood pressure, to have your feet flat on the ground, not crossed, and your arm at the same level as your heart.

5. Make sure you are getting in your steps every day. The suggested number of steps each person should be getting in each day is 10,000. If you do not want to count your steps, try to make sure you get in 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week. That can be 15 minutes in the mornings and 15 in the evenings or 30 minutes all at once every day Monday through Friday. However you need to do it, just as long as you get it in.

These are just some suggestions of ways to watch your heart health. Monitoring your heart health at home should NEVER replace regular check ups and tests done with your physician. Eating right, getting in your exercise, managing your stress levels, and drinking plenty of water are great ways to achieve and maintain good heart health. Remember, take care of your heart, you only have one and nobody else can care for it better than you can.

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