This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.In addition to Valentine’s Day, February is American Heart Month, so this is a great time to pay attention to your own heart’s health. Heart disease is an important public health concern. Over time, risk factors like overweight and obesity, smoking, diabetes, stress and alcohol abuse combined with family history, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels may lead to an unhealthy heart. Negative health outcomes, including chest pain, heart attack and stroke, can result. But there are steps you can take now to protect your heart health. Eat for heart health: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein is recommended for heart health and weight management. By choosing foods low in sodium and saturated fat, you can show your heart some love.Chill out: Another way you can keep your heart healthy is by reducing stress in your life. Take a few minutes each day to relax or do something for yourself. Take deep breaths, go on a walk or enjoy the outdoors. Aerobic exercise is a great way to reduce stress and enhance mood, as is spending time with friends. Less stress can lead to a healthier heart.Get moving: Regular exercise can reduce stress, and also keep you in better cardiovascular shape — and that’s great news for our heart. Two-and-a-half hours of moderate intensity exercise or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity throughout the week can have important health benefits. If you aren’t exercising regularly, talk to your doctor about it, and start slow. Some activity is always better than no activity.Kick butts: One of the best health decisions you can make for your heart and for the rest of your body is to quit smoking. If you are a smoker, your risk of heart disease, lung disease, stroke and cancer are all increased. Do your heart and yourself a favor and make the choice to kick the tobacco habit. If you need help or guidance, Carson City Health and Human Services offers a free tobacco-cessation program, and you can enroll by According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading killer of men and women in the United States, but it can be prevented. By choosing a healthier lifestyle you can reduce your risk for heart disease. For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCHHS.
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