February is here, and love is in the air! We spend time writing love poems and sending flowers to those we love but are we forgetting ourselves? Hearts surround Valentine’s Day, but many of us forget about our own hearts, the organ. To ensure that we don’t forget to show love to our hearts, February is dedicated to American Heart Month.
American Heart Month is celebrated annually to raise awareness of heart disease and motivate Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease. Nearly 650,000 Americans die from heart diseases each year, and one in nine American adults has already been diagnosed with heart disease.
Heart disease is a phrase for various health conditions that affect the heart’s structure and functions. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease, which occurs when the heart’s arteries become clogged with plaque (substances in the blood). This is also the most common cause of heart attacks. About 366,000 Americans die from coronary heart disease each year. In Logan County during 2020, about 90 deaths were due to heart disease.
There are many ways we can show love to our hearts to prevent heart disease. Many of these tips can improve our overall health and show love to ourselves!
• Ask your doctor about your blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1C.
o Blood pressure, cholesterol, and A1C all affect your heart’s health. Learning about these topics and how they are important to your heart health allows you to make heart-healthy decisions.
• Reduce sodium in your diet.
o Eating a well-rounded diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains gives your body and heart the nutrients it needs to be healthy.
• Be physically active.
o Working your body also works your heart! Exercise keeps your heart strong by reducing stress, lowering heart rate, and lowering blood pressure – all of which can damage your heart.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
o If you are overweight, you are more likely to develop heart conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure. These conditions can lead to heart disease and hurt your heart.
• Quit smoking.
o Smoking can make blood sticky and cause it to clot, damage blood vessels, increase plaque build-up, and cause thickening and narrowing of blood vessels. These can all lead to heart disease!
• Manage stress.
o Increased levels of stress can increase your blood pressure and heart rate; both are dangerous for your heart. You protect your heart by finding ways to manage your stress and reduce your blood pressure and heart rate.
Little steps in the right direction can benefit your heart. Awareness of heart disease and how it is largely preventable is the first step! Make sure to show your heart some love this month and every month!
For more information on American Heart Month and preventing heart disease, go to https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/education/american-heart-month.
To begin raising awareness of heart disease, look for #OurHearts on social media.