Heart Health Awareness Month
Everyone associates February with Valentine’s day, but did you know it’s also a month dedicated to raising awareness for heart health? Each year, the American Heart Association compiles statistics on heart disease, stroke, and other vascular diseases to remind Americans to prioritize their heart health. A few recent ones include…
- Heart disease, which includes coronary heart disease and hypertension, remains the number one cause of death in the US.
- Approximately every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack.
To combat those alarming statistics, we want to share some risk factors as well as ways to help prevent heart disease.
Tobacco smoking is one of the top three leading risk factors for heart disease. Chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels. There really is no amount of smoking that is safe. The good news is no matter how long or how much you smoked, you’ll start reducing your risks as soon as you quit.
Inactivity can put so many strains on your heart, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Getting regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease and help you maintain a healthy weight. Even 30 minutes a day with moderate activity, like walking at a decent pace can help. Some other activities include gardening, housekeeping, and even taking the stairs. With weight also being a risk factor for heart disease, the loss that comes with these activities is an additional benefit. Reducing your weight by just 3-5% can help reduce your risks.
We all know that a healthy diet can reduce our risk of heart disease. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is a good place to start. Avoid too much salt and sugar, and limit certain fats. A healthy diet also means that if you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Not enough sleep can harm your health. It can lead to obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes, and depression. A good amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours. With our busy schedules, good sleeping habits can be difficult, but we need to make it a priority. If you feel like you are getting enough sleep, but are still tired throughout the day, you may need to go get a sleep test to rule out sleep apnea.
Managing your stress can be difficult, especially when we have circumstances in our lives that can be quite overwhelming and stressful. Everything mentioned so far can help manage stress, possibly even combined with relaxation exercises or meditation.
February is a great time to make those appointments and check on things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. If you already have one of these conditions, make sure to ask your doctor how you can manage it and improve your numbers. Make sure you are taking your medications as prescribed.
We encourage everyone to be proactive in protecting your heart. So make those appointments to get checked out, take a long walk, and eat a heart-healthy dinner. Happy heart month!