February is Heart Health Month
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
It is also one of the most preventable. Making heart-healthy choices, knowing your family health history and the risk factors for heart disease, having regular check-ups and working with your physician to manage your health are all integral aspects of saving lives from this often silent killer.
How can American Heart Month make a difference?
We can use this month to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it — both at home and in the community.
Here are just a few ideas:
- Encourage families to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt.
- Motivate teachers and administrators to make physical activity a part of the school day. This can help students start good habits early.
- Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease.
Younger adults are at risk.
National trends show heart disease death rates are declining more slowly than they have in the past, especially among adults ages 35 to 64. In many communities across the U.S., death rates are actually increasing among adults in this age group. Not only are more younger adults dying of heart disease, but their rates of risk factors—such as physical inactivity, tobacco use, and hypertension—are also increasing.
Take Control of Your Heart Health
- Find time to be active. Aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. (30 minutes/ 5 days a week) Invite fitness buddies on an afternoon stroll, try an exercise class, or challenge the whole family to a soccer match.
- Make healthy eating a habit. Small changes in your eating habits can make a big difference. Try making healthier versions of your favorite recipes. How? Look for ways to lower sodium and trans fat, and add more fruits and vegetables.
- Quit tobacco—for good. Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products affects nearly every organ in your body, including your heart.
- Know your numbers. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are major risk factors for heart disease. Ask your health care team to check your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels regularly and help you take steps to control your levels.
- Stick to the ’script. Taking your medications can be tough, especially if you feel fine. But sticking with your medication routine is important for managing and controlling conditions that could put your heart at risk.