Many of us celebrate Valentine’s Day in February by sharing gifts and remembering the importance of love. This February, we would like to make things a little more special and meaningful by celebrating American Heart Month.
February is American Heart Month, a time that reminds us to take care of our hearts and educate ourselves on the importance of heart health. These efforts also encourage people to reduce their risk of developing heart disease by following recommendations given by doctors, educators, etc.
Heart Health Facts*
● According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 17,060,000 people in the U.S. have coronary heart disease, also called clogged arteries.
● Important risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, diabetes, family history of early heart disease, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and age (55 or older for women).
● The great news is that heart disease is one of the most preventable diseases, and over the last 50 years, the death rate for heart disease has decreased by more than 70 percent.
How Do I Lower the Risk of Heart Disease?
● Get quality sleep each night (sleep 7-8 hours, go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, create a quiet and comfortable environment, get enough sunlight, etc.).
● Quit smoking.
● Check your blood pressure at least once a year.
● Aim for healthy weight.
● Manage stress (meditation, support system, consultation with a mental healthcare provider, physical activity).
● Move more! (Move your body more in general throughout the day. Get at least 60 minutes a week of moderately intense aerobic/cardio activity that you enjoy)
Here are some ideas for how to take part in heart month:
● Share about it on social media
● Start a walking club with friends or those in your neighborhood.
● Challenge your organization or colleagues to participate in a steps contest
● Host a potluck dinner of heart-healthy dishes
● On Valentine’s Day, plan a heart-healthy date like going on a hike or sharing a heart-healthy meal or snacks
● Participate in National Wear Red Day