February is American Heart Month.  When February comes, we think of Valentine's day and hearts.  And you should be thinking of hearts - your own and that of your family members, that is.  According to the US Dept of Health and Human Services, cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke,  is the leading cause of death in men and women in the U.S.  in diabetics, this is especially important as the incidence of cardiovascular disease increases in diabetic patients.  To avoid the onset of cardiovascular disease, here are some tips to keep yourself and your loved ones  "heart healthy" :
  • Monitor your blood pressure.  Many times you may not have symptoms, so have your blood pressure checked at the pharmacy or your doctor's office regularly.  
  • Eat a healthy diet.  This includes decreasing your salt intake, increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetable, increasing the amount of fiber, and making sure you are hydrated with ample amounts of water. Keeping a food log will help with your diet plan. 
  • Exercise regularly.  See your doctor before you start an organized exercise program, but in the mean time, increase activity by moving more and walking more. 
  • Don't smoke. Smoking can complicate cardiovascular disease.  If you do smoke, speak to your primary care doctor about a smoking cessation program. There is both medication and counseling available to help kick the habit. 
  • Decrease Stress.  Taking a "time out" to step back from our busy lives will only help our sanity, but also help our heart health as well.  
  • Work closely with you health care providers.  Keep regular check up appointments to be monitored for contributing factors such as obesity and diabetes, which can both worsen symptoms of heart disease. 
  • Visit your podiatrist.  Our doctors at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle can help get your feet ready for exercise and activity to help prevent heart disease.  If you have a comorbidity such as diabetes, we can help with proper diabetic foot care as well.
So do your part in keeping your heart healthy, and fight cardiovascular disease, especially if you have diabetes.