Do You Know "Life's Essential 8" for Heart Health?
January 17, 2023
The start of a new year is always a great opportunity to renew your commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Garnet Health wants all Sullivan County residents to step into 2023 with attainable goals for better health. And a great place to start, especially as we approach February and Heart Month, is with the American Heart Association's (AHA) Life's Essential 8. These key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health can help lower your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
By breaking it down into eight steps, you can see how the choices we make and the actions we take can make a huge difference in not just heart health, but overall well-being.
Some of these steps might be obvious, and some might surprise you!
Step 1: Eat Better. Eating better and healthier doesn't have to mean being on a "diet". Think of this as a meal plan. The AHA recommends a healthy eating pattern that includes whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean protein, nuts and seeds, as well as cooking in non-tropical oils like olive and canola.
Step 2: Be More Active. Adults should get 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity, like walking, taking a bike ride, water aerobics and gardening, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity, like running, spinning or swimming laps - or do a combination of both throughout the week! Wherever you start your fitness journey, the goal is to get up and get moving.
Step 3: Quit Tobacco. Sometimes this is easier said than done. Garnet Health's Freedom from Smoking Workshop provides the tips and tools you need to quit!*
Step 4: Get Healthy Sleep. Surprised by this one? Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. According to the AHA, adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function, and reduces the risk for chronic diseases.
Step 5: Manage Weight. There are so many health benefits to managing your weight. Understanding your BMI, journaling your food intake, and learning portion control are just a few tips. If you require more specialized help, the bariatric specialists at Garnet Health can partner with you to create a personalized weight loss plan.
Following steps 1 through 5 will help control steps 6 through 8.
Step 6: Control Cholesterol. The first crucial step is to know your cholesterol levels, and then work with your doctor to maintain or help lower your levels if needed. High levels of "bad" cholesterol can lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Step 7: Manage Blood Sugar. As with cholesterol, knowing and understanding your blood sugar levels is important to maintaining good health and preventing the risk of diabetes, which can lead to heart disease and stroke. Garnet Health's diabetes program in Sullivan County can help you evaluate your risk. This comprehensive diabetes prevention program is available to all who qualify.
Step 8: Manage Blood Pressure. Keeping your blood pressure at a normal range can keep you healthier longer!
Scheduling annual visits with your primary care provider can ensure your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels are all regularly checked and monitored. If any levels are found to be higher/lower than they should be, you can immediately begin working toward a treatment plan that's personalized for you. And if necessary, making an appointment with a Garnet Health Doctors cardiologist can help you address more serious conditions.
Despite our best efforts, some things like our genetics, age, and ethnicity increase the risk of heart disease. Should you need to see a specialist about a heart condition, Garnet Health offers Sullivan County residents the very best in heart care - from minimally invasive surgeries, to emergency care and cardiac rehabilitation. Throughout our health system, we have comprehensive heart care services covering diagnosis to treatment, and we're proud to be a cardiovascular health leader in the region.
For more information on Garnet Health's cardiac services, visit garnethealth.org/heartcare or call (845) 333-6500.
Be sure to mark your calendar for the 98.3 WSUL 45th Heart-A-Thon, to be held on February 17, at Resorts World Catskills Epicenter. Benefits raised go toward heart disease treatment, education, and prevention throughout Sullivan County. Every year, we are grateful that Garnet Health Medical Center - Catskills is a chosen beneficiary. This year, part of the Heart-A-Thon proceeds will support the funding of a new treadmill, portable heart monitors, and vital monitoring machines.