February is American Heart Month! Did you know that someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds in the United States?

The risk is very real, which is why our team at AFC Urgent Care Hixson want to provide you with tips on reducing your risk in two key ways—by managing stress effectively and quitting smoking.

How Can Stress Affect Your Heart Health?

It is true that stress is going to be a part of life. Stressful situations are going to happen here and there. However, if you are living in stress most days, then you are putting yourself at an increased risk of heart disease.

When your body is under stress, your blood pressure and cholesterol levels increases, which can then increase your risk of heart disease. In addition, when you are stressed, you are more likely to have unhealthy habits, such as eating fried and/or processed foods, not getting enough sleep and skipping exercise.

Ways to Manage Stress

  • Keep a positive attitude.
  • Accept the things you cannot control.
  • Be assertive instead of aggressive.
  • Try meditation or tai chi for stress management.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat healthy, well-balanced meals.

Why Is It Important to Quit Smoking for Your Heart Health?

Cigarettes contain more than 7,000 chemicals, including known carcinogens. These chemicals, then, work to harm your blood cells, which can also damage your heart function.

Smoking is also known to damage arteries, increase your blood pressure, increase your heart rate and cause abnormal heart rhythms, which all contribute to heart disease.

Ways to Help You Quit

  • Find your reason to quit.
  • Create a plan to quit smoking.
  • Think about using nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Ask your loved ones for their support.
  • Avoid alcohol and other triggers that might want you to smoke.
  • Give yourself some grace.

If you’re looking to improve your health in 2020, a checkup is a good first step! Visit AFC Urgent Care Hixson today—no appointment is needed.