Every February, we see heart decorations as signs of love in celebration of Valentine’s Day. However, February is also the time to celebrate American Heart Month to raise awareness for heart disease and promote ways to help improve heart health.
And it’s for good reason. Heart disease is a leading cause of death and stroke in the United States, and almost half of U.S. adults have some form of heart disease. Heart disease is a broad term encompassing a number of heart conditions, including heart failure, valve disease, cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat problems, and coronary artery disease, among others. When a person has heart disease, they are at much greater risk for cardiac events such as heart attack, sudden cardiac death, or stroke.
Who’s at Risk
People who eat a diet high in saturated fats and sodium, have chronic diseases such as hypertension or diabetes, lead sedentary lifestyles, smoke, or have a family history of heart disease are at greater risk for heart disease.
Celebrating National Heart Month
The very best way to celebrate this heart health month is to take steps to improve cardiovascular health. By replacing high-risk habits with heart-healthy habits, you can be well on your way toward a healthier heart:
Eat a heart-healthy diet: This includes plenty of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains, low-fat dairy foods, nuts, seeds, skinless lean meats, and fish. Reduce your intake of processed foods, which are typically those found boxed or packaged in the center of the grocery store. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation or consider stopping altogether.
Get some exercise: For your heart health to be its best, you should work out your heart regularly with cardiovascular exercise. Thirty minutes of moderate or rigorous cardiovascular exercise five days each week is recommended, but check with your doctor first.
Get a checkup and manage chronic conditions: Speaking of working with your doctor, it is important to see your primary care physician regularly for age-appropriate health screenings and to manage any chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, both of which can lead to heart disease. If your blood pressure is 130/80 mm HG or higher, AHA hypertension guidelines recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent and manage hypertension and any risk it poses for heart disease.
More Ways To Celebrate
In addition to following these heart health tips, you can celebrate American Heart Month in many creative ways with your family, friends, and coworkers.
Incorporate heart-healthy activities for Valentine’s Day: Encourage your loved ones to join you for a vigorous walk or hike. You could hide Valentine’s Day treasures and incorporate a scavenger hunt into your activity. Then, gather in the kitchen to cook a heart-healthy meal.
Hold a staff heart health day: Take time to encourage coworkers to care for their heart health. Round up a team to walk together at lunch, organize a heart health presentation and hold a potluck cook-off contest featuring heart-healthy foods.
Show your support: Wear red and heart-themed clothes and give away heart-themed trinkets to help remind people you care for to take care of their hearts.
Quit smoking: Whether it’s just you or you have a group of friends who should all kick the habit, organize a quit smoking party to help the cause.
Heart disease is more than a leading killer in this country. It is also a leading cause of ER visits, bringing many people in to Laredo Emergency Room every year. While we encourage you to take steps to improve your cardiac health, rest assured that if you need us for a cardiac event or heart disease-related emergency, we are here for you with expert care.
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