Happy Heart Health Month
Lub-dub, lub-dub. Hear that beat? It’s your heart talking to you, and it’s telling you how special and worthy you are.
During the month of February, individuals see the heart as the symbol for love. February is also American Heart Month, a time to show yourself some love. Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—which includes heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the #1 killer of men and women in the U.S.! It is also the leading cause of disability, preventing individuals from working and also enjoying fun activities. Some good news? Heart disease can often be prevented through proactive healthy choices and by managing conditions.
You can control a number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease…just remember to take things one step at a time. Too much too fast, and you could actually be causing excess strain on the organ you’re working to help, or find your changes are difficult to sustain. Risk factors for CVD you can positively influence include:
- Physical activity
- Tobacco use
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
Try out the strategies below to better your heart health. Many of them can easily become lifelong habits!
Work with your health care team. Get a checkup at least once each year, even if you feel healthy. A doctor, nurse, or other health care professional can check for conditions that put you at risk for CVD.
Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure can often show no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office. Find more information at CDC’s High Blood Pressure Web site.
Get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care professional about this simple blood test. You can find out more from CDC’s High Cholesterol Web site.
Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid CVD and its complications.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. Check out CDC’s Assessing Your Weight Web site.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week.
Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for CVD. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your health care team can suggest ways to help you quit. For more information about tobacco use and quitting see Coquitline.org.
Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one. For more information, visit CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health Web site.