Heart Health Month is the perfect time to commit to improving heart health and preventing heart disease and stroke.
Heart disease occurs when there is a blockage of the blood vessels that provide blood to the heart muscle. Stroke occurs when there is blockage of the blood vessels that provide blood to the brain. These blockages are caused by a build-up of plaque that is made up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances found in the blood. Heart disease is the leading causes of death in the United States, including in American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people.
As a commitment to prevent heart disease and stroke among AI/AN people, the Indian Health Service partners with patients, communities, and other federal agencies to help people learn about heart disease risk factors and healthy lifestyle choices that can help prevent heart disease and stroke.
Achieving a healthier lifestyle can decrease the risk of developing heart problems. Making small changes in everyday life can lead to big changes for heart health.
- Eating a healthy diet can lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce damage to arteries.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Decrease the amount of red meat.
- Choose foods that are low in salt (sodium).
- Increasing physical activity can help maintain a healthy weight and increase blood flow to the heart.
- Start with small goals. Even 10 minutes a day can decrease the risk of developing heart problems.
- Involve a friend or family member to help stay motivated.
- Use the stairs and park further away from store entrances when possible.
- Avoiding commercial tobacco: the number one preventable risk factor for heart disease.
- Never start smoking or using oral tobacco.
- If you already smoke or use oral tobacco, talk with your provider about ways you can quit.
- Talk with your children about the dangers of commercial tobacco.
- Learning healthy ways to manage stress.
- Exercise, meditation, and keeping a journal can help decrease stress and improve heart health.
Lifestyle changes can be overwhelming and frustrating at times. Change does not occur overnight; patience and perseverance are important when making lifestyle changes. Taking time to learn about risk factors and prevention can help you make healthy choices. The following resources are available to assist in lifestyle changes.
Resources for patients:
NHLBI Heart Month
Resources for clinicians:
IHS Observes Breast Cancer Awareness