February is Heart Month – a time for Canadians to think about how everyday lifestyle choices can contribute to heart health and general wellbeing. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, heart disease is the second leading cause of death and hospitalization in Canada and affects over 2.4 million Canadians. The good news is, up to 80 per cent of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices. Here are 4 proven ways to help keep your heart healthy.

Exercise regularly

Being physically active is good for your heart and brain. People who are not active have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as diabetes, cancer and dementia. Aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise each week. Remember, some movement is better than none! Casual neighbourhood walks, gardening, household chores and taking the stairs instead of the elevator all contribute towards being physically active.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart. Incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods can help reduce the risk of heart disease. The Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is rich in vegetables, fruit and low-fat dairy foods, has a proven impact on blood pressure – lowering levels within two weeks. To help you get started, here are the Heart & Stroke community’s top 10 favourite heart-healthy recipes.

Quit smoking

Did you know that smoking triples the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke in middle-aged men and women? Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do to prevent heart disease and stroke. Some common methods for quitting include using nicotine replacement therapy, prescription medications, and taking part in counselling or support groups. Research shows that having support from friends, family, and other resources to help you quit, can have a big impact on your success rate. Consider speaking to a healthcare professional about the best approach for you.

Manage stress

Chronic stress has been shown to increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems. Some effective ways to manage stress include:

It’s important to find what works best for you and make stress management a priority in your daily life.

Prevention is key – book your virtual healthcare appointment today

Take the Heart and Stroke Risk Assessment to find out if you’re at risk of heart disease and stroke and how you can take action to live a longer and fuller life. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise or diet program.

If you would like to speak with a medical professional about your healthcare needs, head to https://tuliphealth.ca/talk-to-a-doc. Tulip Health is a virtual walk-in clinic that provides non-emergency related healthcare. It’s easy to use and it’s covered by OHIP. To book an appointment, visit www.tuliphealth.ca