Yes, Valentine’s Day has passed, but we’re still thinking about hearts. February is American Heart Month, sponsored by the American Heart Association. It is a time to raise awareness of the prevalence of Heart Disease, which is the leading cause of death for both men and women, causing one out of every four deaths. Take note caregivers, the focus of the 2018 campaign is encouraging younger adults to take control of their cardiovascular health and be aware of their own risks, but this does not lessen the need for awareness in the aging population.
Anyone can make small choices that improve heart health:
- Know the risk. There are a few things that are beyond control, such as age, gender and heredity. It’s important to have a talk with a medical professional about an individual’s risk for heart disease.
- Know the signs. Heart attacks, cardiac arrest and stroke are serious events, the effects of which can be lessened with early intervention and treatment. Be prepared by knowing the signs before they occur.
- Reduce the risk. According to the AHA, these seven steps are simple and proven ways to reduce the risk of heart disease:
- Increase physical activity
- Control cholesterol levels
- Choose a healthy diet. This includes increasing fruits and veggies and limiting salt and sweets.
- Manage blood pressure. Consult a doctor about the best way to manage blood pressure, also check out these the new guidelines.
- Lose weight
- Manage blood sugar
- Don’t smoke
- Take more steps to improve health. In addition to the “simple seven,” these steps are also recommended for improving health.
- Be grateful. Practice gratitude, which is helpful for not only maintaining health, but also in recovery from heart problems.
- Be mindful. Evidence suggests that meditation and other similar activities may decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Maintain medication regimen. This seems like common sense, but many people stop medication without consulting their doctor. Continue to take all medication prescribed, including daily aspirin.
- Manage stress. Everyone experiences stress, but prolonged or extreme stress can have a deadly effect on the body. Make a plan to improve health by keeping stress under control.
- Get adequate sleep. Sometimes behavior interferes with sleep – consuming too much caffeine or allowing phones to interfere with sleep. Take steps to get better sleep.
A healthier heart means a healthier life. We wish you a happy heart month, and great health for many years to come!