Heart Health: The One Investment You Can’t Afford To Miss

Prioritizing Heart Health Before American Heart Month

shutterstock 1586903512
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

February heralds American Heart Month, serving as a vital prompt to prioritize heart health amid the post-holiday celebrations, indulgent Super Bowl snacks, and renewed New Year's resolutions. Rather than waiting for Valentine's Day, let's proactively address heart disease and commit to a healthier lifestyle.

From Heart Disease Survivor to Advocate

shutterstock 657810997
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

As a heart disease survivor, I learned about heart health the hard way by losing it and having to make up for lost time to get it back in shape (a process that I'm still working on).

Taking care of your heart is just like saving money: it's much easier to do a little bit regularly when you're young than to have to do a lot when you're older to catch up.

The Cost Is High

shutterstock 1388950505
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Taking care of your heart health will save you money, protecting you against costly doctor and hospital visits, expensive maintenance medications, and potential loss of income. Not to mention, it could save your life!

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., as well as a major cause of disability. But there's a lot we can do to prevent it and treat it.

Eating Healthy for Fewer Doctor Visits

shutterstock 1168721416
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“An apple a day…” as the saying goes. With rising health care costs, consider what you put into your body as an investment in both frugality and longevity. A diet low in salt added sugars, and trans or saturated fats and high in fresh vegetables and fruits will help you maintain healthy blood pressure and take care of your heart.

The Salt Dilemma

shutterstock 1278732916
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Did you know the average American consumes about 3,400 mg of sodium a day, while the recommended intake is less than 2,300 mg per day? And it's usually not the salt shaker on your kitchen table that's the culprit, but rather all the processed foods we eat out of convenience. It's not easy to change your lifestyle, but it can be done.

Exercise: The Cost-Efficient Path to a Healthier You

shutterstock 1549485185
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five days per week for overall cardiovascular health. If you're not up to that activity level, just get started doing something (which is always better than nothing). You don't need a gym; just take a walk outside or check out a free fitness video at home.

Quit Smoking: Your Heart and Wallet Will Thank You

shutterstock 1654586161
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

It's widely recognized that smoking poses a grave threat to lung health, but its adverse impact on heart health and finances is often underestimated. The average cost of a pack of cigarettes can be staggering, with expenses adding up to thousands of dollars annually for frequent smokers. Beyond this financial burden, the long-term effects of smoking on heart health can lead to substantial healthcare costs, including treatments for heart disease, high blood pressure, and other related conditions. For those looking to quit, numerous support programs offer assistance in breaking free from this costly habit. By quitting or never starting, individuals can pave the way for a healthier heart and a thicker wallet.

Quality Sleep: An Investment in Heart Health and Savings

shutterstock 1910148166
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Insufficient sleep has been linked to a heightened risk of heart disease, particularly for individuals with sleep apnea, where the connection is even more pronounced. Prioritize a nightly sleep duration of at least six to eight hours for optimal heart health. If you're a persistent snorer or struggle with restlessness during sleep, consult a medical professional for a comprehensive evaluation, as addressing sleep apnea not only enhances your well-being but can also lead to significant long-term financial savings by averting potential heart-related medical expenses.

Check Your Blood Pressure: Safeguard Your Heart and Financial Health

shutterstock 1457056640
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Unmanaged high blood pressure stands as a prominent contributor to heart disease and strokes, often operating silently without evident symptoms. Ensure you regularly monitor your blood pressure, whether through doctor visits, local pharmacy checks, or the convenience of a home blood pressure monitor. If your readings reveal elevated levels, consult your physician about potential medication and adhere to the prescribed treatment plan. This proactive approach not only safeguards your heart health but also prevents future healthcare costs associated with untreated hypertension, making it a wise investment in both your well-being and financial stability.

Cholesterol Check: A Vital Step for Heart Health and Financial Wellness

shutterstock 1827506501
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Though assessing cholesterol levels requires a blood test, the brief discomfort of a needle holds immense value in gauging your susceptibility to artery blockages, which can trigger heart disease and strokes. While cholesterol figures may appear perplexing, your physician can decipher their significance and provide guidance on managing them effectively. If your cholesterol is unmanageable, it can be brought under control by modifying your diet, particularly by reducing sugars and saturated fats. In some cases, medication may be necessary. By actively monitoring and addressing your cholesterol levels, you not only fortify your heart's well-being but also avoid potential financial burdens linked to heart-related health expenses, making it a strategic investment in both health and financial stability.

Prioritize Heart Health: A Financially Wise Investment for Life

shutterstock 537632893
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

While completely eradicating heart disease may be beyond our reach, we can make substantial strides in its prevention and treatment by giving our heart health the attention it deserves. Waiting, as some have done, can result in preventable heart issues. Instead, take proactive steps to safeguard your heart's well-being before problems arise. Valuable resources and information are available through initiatives like the Million Hearts program and the American Heart Association, which not only empower you to prioritize your health but also contribute to long-term financial savings by averting costly heart-related medical treatments. By embracing a proactive mindset, you invest in your health and financial stability simultaneously.