Healthy Heart Healthy Life
When we think of February, our first thoughts come to Superbowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day. But an important February theme that is sometimes overlooked is Heart Health Awareness Month.
Heart disease is a widespread health challenge that affects hundreds of thousands of Americans. The CDC states that 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease every year—that’s 1 in 4 deaths. The goal of this month’s blog is to look at ways to help improve your heart health. Even if you are living with heart disease, you can improve your odds of living a long and healthy life through lifestyle modifications.
- Get moving. Exercise and physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease by improving the strength of the heart and helping to keep the arteries and blood vessels flexible, so blood can flow regularly. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to reduce the risk of heart disease. Try performing exercises such as walking or cycling and then build to more intense exercise.
- Healthy diet. Studies show that diets that are high in fruits and veggies while limiting saturated fats, salts, and fatty meats can reduce the risk of heart disease. One diet that is healthy and nutritious is the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, and fish instead of processed meats.
- Reduce stress. When we feel stressed out, our heart rate and blood pressure increase, which causes extra strain on our cardiovascular system. Take some time to decompress and take care of yourself. Reading a book, listening to music, or taking a hot bath are just some examples of practicing self-care.
- See your physician regularly. Regular check-ups with your primary care physician will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, cholesterol, and fasting glucose, which are all factors that can play a role in your risk for cardiovascular disease. By seeing your doctor regularly, you can know exactly where you are and what areas you need to improve.
In addition, wearing red on the first Friday of February (2/4/2022) is a symbolic gesture to spread awareness of heart health and a commitment to take care of your own health. Show your support by wearing red and making the conscious effort to improve your health and supporting others around you.
For more information and resources, please see the CDC’s webpage for American Heart Month.