Did you know that February is National American Heart Month? What better time than now to start taking charge of your heart health than when you're looking to build your family! You may find that many of our recommendations here help you along your path to parenthood, too.
According to the CDC, about 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year. Heart disease is serious and can lead to strokes, heart attacks and other heart related conditions that can impact your quality of life.
While heart disease can be scary, there are several ways you can reduce your risk at home. Lifestyle changes are one of the best ways to improve your heart health and reduce your risk for heart disease.
When it comes to nutrition, there’s a lot of advice out there, but it doesn’t have to be a challenge. The American Heart Association has some simple and healthy guidelines to make your life easy, while you take care of your body. One recommendation is to include fruits and vegetables at every meal of the day. Think in color and get a variety in when selecting those fruits and vegetables. In addition to eating more fruits and vegetables, it’s also important to eat less saturudated fats and cut down on sodium. When grocery shopping you can look for the “Heart Check” on many products that will help guide you when choosing products that are more aligned with heart health.
In addition to nourishing your body with healthy foods, it’s also important to keep your body moving. Physical activity is essential for your heart health and it’s recommended that you are physically active at least 30 minutes a day. Consider joining a local fitness group, head to the gym, or just walk briskly for 30 minutes each day. It can be hard to stay motivated when starting a new fitness routine, so enlist a partner or friend to join you and together you can keep each other accountable for making this new healthy change.
Tobacco use puts you at a much greater risk for Heart Disease along with a potential for having additional negative health implications. It’s recommended that you quit smoking entirely to not only improve your heart health, but also your fertility health as well. According to the FDA, research shows that smoking can negatively affect hormone production and can also damage the DNA in sperm.
Often when we think of healthy habits, the first things that come to mind are nutrition and fitness, but our mental health is often left out of the conversation. Your mental health is just as important if not more important when it comes to heart health. With life comes stress and this can affect your well-being tremendously and often creates a greater challenge when it comes to making healthy choices as it can affect your mood, your thoughts, and even your sleep.
Stress management can be as simple as saying no to things or even taking time to yourself. Meditation is also another great way to relieve stress, especially during ongoing medical treatment like infertility treatment such as IVF. Sometimes it’s also beneficial to speak with a therapist about the added stress in your life and they can help you address the issues and find better ways to cope.
Making lifestyle changes can have a lasting impact on your overall health and directly benefit the heart by helping you control your blood pressure and lower your cholesterol. It’s not always easy to implement big changes in our routine, but making small changes over time makes it easier to sustain these new habits.
In addition to lifestyle changes, it’s also important to follow up on a regular basis with your physician. They can do a thorough checkup and some additional testing to ensure you’re in great health.