Amanda Mills (photo courtesy of the American Heart Association)

In the past two years we’ve seen people’s health — and the significant progress we have made in cardiovascular health overall — unravel. Many of us delayed doctor appointments, took on record-breaking stress levels at work and at home, and turned to unhealthy behaviors in an attempt to cope with the constant “new normal.”

We can’t change the past, but we can reclaim the future by acting now to manage our lifetime risk for heart disease and stroke.

Many strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes such as moving more, eating smart, improving your well-being and managing your blood pressure.

Here are four things the American Heart Association recommends to help you reclaim today for a better tomorrow:

  • Manage your blood pressure – Have your blood pressure measured at least once per year by a health care professional, regularly monitor it at home with a validated monitor and discuss the numbers with a doctor. For most people, a normal blood pressure should be 120/80 or less.
  • Learn how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T. – A stroke can happen to anyone at any point in their lifetime. If someone is having a stroke, they must get medical attention right away. If you see Face drooping, Arm weakness or Speech difficulty, it’s Time to call 911. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death.
  • Reduce chronic stressStress is a part of life, but chronic, constant stress is unhealthy and should not be the norm.Staying active is one of the best ways to manage stress. Not only can it help you feel, think, sleep and live better, it also improves overall quality of life.
  • Avoid Tobacco – Indiana has one of the highest smoking rates in the country. Avoiding, reducing or quitting tobacco use significantly impacts health and well-being.

Losing even one Hoosier to stroke or heart disease is too many. We can change the future if we start today.

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