5 Things to Know to Protect Your Heart This Holiday Season
Taking these five steps to protect your heart during the holidays will make it less likely you have a heart attack, stroke or other heart problems.
1. Choosing nutritious whole foods can help you avoid heart problems and keep your heart healthy. Indulging in unhealthy foods and drink during the holidays can lead to extra pounds, increased cholesterol and other dangers to your heart. Reduce risks to your heart health by following daily meal plans during the holidays that are built around nutritious whole foods. Save the holiday pie, cheesy casserole or glass of alcoholic cheer as an occasional treat.
2. Checking your blood pressure regularly may reduce your chance of a stroke or heart attack. High blood pressure, also called hypertension, can damage your blood vessels, forcing your heart to work harder and increasing your risk for having heart attack, stroke or heart disease.
Regularly checking your blood pressure with an at-home monitor will help you and your doctor understand the risks to your heart. Talk with your doctor if you don’t know the target levels for your blood pressure and cholesterol and how to keep tabs on them. If your SCAN plan includes the Over-the-Counter benefit, consider using your allowance to order an at-home blood pressure monitor.
3. Taking blood pressure and cholesterol medications as prescribed make it less likely you’ll have a stroke, heart attack or heart disease. Don’t let a busy holiday schedule prevent you from taking the important medications that control your blood pressure or cholesterol. Missing even one dose of the drugs your doctor has prescribed for your blood pressure or cholesterol could put you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. (See “Three Tricks for Remembering Your Heart Medications” below.)
4. Combining physical activities with holiday festivities may help you get the exercise you need to keep your heart healthy. Here are some ideas for sticking to or starting a regular exercise routine this holiday season:
- Look for ways to get a workout and enjoy the fun at the same time.
- Suggest a pickleball match for the next family gathering.
- Challenge your grandchild to a ball-bouncing contest.
- Walk instead of drive around the block to see the neighborhood’s holiday decorations.
5. Preparing for holiday stress may help you avoid behaviors that can be harmful to your heart, like drinking too much alcohol and overeating. Think now about what or who tends to cause you to feel anxious, depressed or stressed at holiday time. What are some healthy ways you’ve coped in the past? Or what you might you try this year if you begin feeling the weight of the holiday season? Many people find techniques like meditation, deep breathing and exercise can help them manage their stress.
See more tips and tools to help you take your medications as prescribed. And if you have don’t have a Medicare Advantage plan, take a look at the comprehensive coverage, award-winning service, and extensive network of caring physicians, offered by SCAN Health Plan.