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Celebrate Valentine’s Day with these 5 tips for a healthy heart

The World Health Organization confirms that cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death worldwide. While there were over 300,000 COVID-19 deaths in 2020 in the United States, provisional data from the CDC reports over 650,000 deaths from heart disease in the same year in the United States. The American Heart Association estimates that 80% of cardiovascular disease is preventable through lifestyle changes. February is National Heart Month, when attention is given to the importance of heart health. Taking steps to care for your heart now can reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease in the future. Here are five ways to get started.

Make every meal count

Being aware of what you eat makes a difference in your heart health. If your meals are high in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol will build up in your arteries, increasing the chances of cardiovascular disease. Fast foods like pizza are convenient, but they can increase your risk. Instead of having meat take the leading role in your meals, try to make fruits and vegetables half your meal. The other half can be split between lean protein and carbs. Cut back on processed foods like cookies and replace them with whole foods like grapes or berries.

Show your heart you care by getting out of the chair

Any exercise is better than no exercise. (Image licensed by Shutterstock)

Your heart is a muscle and, like any muscle, it gets stronger with exercise. If you are sedentary, you are not helping your heart. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic exercise. But if that sounds too overwhelming, just start moving. Walk when you talk on the phone. Park at the edge of the parking lot and walk in. Take a 10-minute daily walk and then increase the distance once a month. Just get up and get moving.

Get rid of the extra pounds that are just hanging around

After months of COVID-19 quarantining, many people have gained weight. Make a commitment to get rid of those extra pounds to keep your heart healthy. When you are overweight, your heart has to work harder to deliver blood to the whole body, which can strain your heart. There is no magic way to shed pounds. To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Figure out a way to cut back on the calories and increase your activity for the best results.

Reduce stress

When you are under stress, your body releases adrenaline, the hormone that causes your heart and breathing rate to increase and your blood pressure to rise. When stress is continual, this activity can take a toll on your heart. Attempts to relieve the stress with alcohol, cigarettes or unhealthy food can also impact heart health. Find ways to manage stress by taking intentional breaks, setting priorities, or confiding in someone about stressful issues.

See a doctor every year

Early detection is key to treating any disease. Don’t miss your annual checkups, and don’t hesitate to make an appointment if you think something might be wrong. (Image licensed by Shutterstock)

There are many health conditions that can be managed more successfully when diagnosed early. The yearly physical is a good habit because it allows you to establish a connection with your physician, who can identify potential health issues. Some serious conditions have few symptoms. For example, high blood pressure, which can damage the heart, has no obvious symptoms. If found early, high blood pressure can be effectively managed. If health issues are discovered during a yearly physical, it is important to follow up with additional appointments and take all medications as instructed.

A time for extra care

Maintaining good health is a challenge at all times but can be overwhelming following a medical event like a heart attack or joint replacement surgery. Pain, healing and other issues can negatively affect your resolve to remain healthy. Finding the best environment for recovery may mean staying in a short-term care facility where there are professionals who can help monitor your health and assist you in the journey of rehabilitation. Everything from pain management to effective physical therapy can be offered around the clock to keep you steadily moving toward a goal of returning to the active lifestyle you desire. Glenview Terrace has one of the finest short-term care programs on the North Shore, making it a wise choice for recovery.

At Glenview Terrace, the focus is always to help get you back to the independent lifestyle you desire. Focusing on healthcare excellence and safety, Glenview Terrace provides the latest infection-control precautions, including routine COVID-19 testing and monitoring. Glenview Terrace is also ranked among the top 1% of all Illinois post-hospital rehabilitation and nursing care centers by Newsweek — and has received Medicare’s highest five-star rating. Glenview Terrace  has also earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval certification for post-hospital and post-surgical care. For additional information or to arrange a personalized virtual tour, visit or call 847-729-9090.


— Judy Buchenot for Glenview Terrace