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February is American Heart Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year one in four deaths is caused by heart disease. As a caregiver you are under a lot of stress and often tend to ignore your own health. You need to take care of yourself while you are taking care of others. There are small things you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease, such as:

  • Ask your health provider about taking aspirin.

  • Watch your weight. If you’re overweight, set a reasonable goal for weight loss. Just a 5% – 10% loss can reduce blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

  • Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke.

  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.

  • Try to eat healthier foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber and antioxidants and those that are low in sodium, saturated and trans fats.

  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.

  • Try to find a way to fit in 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week.

  • Eat a little chocolate. Studies have shown that people who eat dark chocolate in small amounts more than once a week lower their risk of heart disease by almost 40% and stroke by about 30%.

  • Most of all, pay attention to yourself. If you feel anything unusual, like shortness of breath, changes in your heart rhythm, or extreme tiredness, see your doctor.

Give yourself as much love as you give your loved one. Have some chocolate more often than on just Valentine's Day. You owe it to yourself and your health.

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