February is widely known for the holiday on the 14th where we all exchange paper hearts and loving words, but February is also associated with another kind of heart—your own! It’s American Heart Month, a time dedicated to spreading awareness about heart disease and heart-healthy initiatives.
First, a few facts:
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America for both men and women.
- 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
- Every 43 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack.
- Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, obesity, physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet. (Risk will also increase with age.)
Here are a few things that you can do to easily improve your heart health:
- Talk to your doctor about your heart. Even if you aren’t sick, schedule a time to benchmark your heart health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Work together with your physician to set goals on improving your heart health.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. Even 15 minutes a day can make a difference. Over time, increase the duration.
- Eat healthy. Cook at home instead of eating out. Swap out salt for another spice with less sodium. Find recipes for heart-healthy meals.
- Begin taking steps to quit smoking. Quitting can decrease your risk for heart disease.
- Stick to your medication regimen for high blood pressure or cholesterol as prescribed by your doctor. If you’re having trouble keeping up with it, talk to your doctor and ask for advice or a different treatment plan.
This year, Million Hearts® is encouraging people to have heart-to-hearts with their loved ones to reinforce healthy lifestyle activities. Tackling heart health as a family can be less daunting than doing it alone. For other helpful tools like action guides and self-blood-pressure monitoring, check out their website.