February is Healthy Heart Month

Airman 1st Class Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

February is a good time to review the ways to have a healthy heart. Some cardiac risk factors may need medication, while others can be corrected by will power. It’s important to monitor and treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. 

It’s also a good time to start second-guessing some bad habits that can affect a healthy heart, such as a bad diet and smoking. 

Treating high blood pressure generally requires medication, with a goal of keeping blood pressure below 130/90.  Elevated cholesterol should also be treated with medication.  For those with diabetes, careful attention from a physician is very important to avoid damaging the heart.

It’s important to get checked regularly for blood pressure and cholesterol issues as they can sometimes go unnoticed.

“High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels may have no symptoms; even if you feel great, you can be suffering from the damage these conditions cause to your blood vessels and vital organs,” said Maj. Donna Smith, Health Promotion Flight commander at the Ramstein Health and Wellness Center.  

Other cardiac risk factors are corrected by making lifestyle changes.  For those persons who are overweight, weight loss can be achieved by eating less.  It is very important to stop smoking.  The third lifestyle change is to become more active. A good goal is to exercise a half-hour per day.

Staying “heart healthy” requires a sincere effort to make sure that each factor is no longer putting us at risk. Therefore, for healthy heart month, people should check in with their physicians to make sure all is good.

HAWC tips for a healthy heart
– If you smoke, stop! Look into tobacco cessation program
– Get blood pressure checked regularly
– Lower sodium intake to lower blood pressure
– Become more active, shoot for 30 minutes a day
– Get cholesterol checked regularly
– Choose lower fat foods to decrease cholesterol levels
– Start with a simple weight loss goal of 10 percent
– Attempt to learn about family medical history for strokes and heart disease

The following is a list of blood pressure checks sponsored by the HAWC for Healthy Heart Month: 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday at Ramstein Commissary, 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday at the Ramstein Base Exchange, 9 to 11 a.m. Feb. 22 at Vogelweh Commissary and 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 23 at Vogelweh BX.