With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, hearts are everywhere—heart decorations, heart candies, heart cards, even heart pancakes for the more creative sweethearts. But one of the most important hearts of all too often gets overlooked: Your heart (or your heart health, to be specific)!
February is American Heart Month: a national event to raise awareness about heart disease and what you can do to decrease your risks. Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for Americans, killing over 650,000 people annually. It is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths in the U.S. each year, and one person dies every 36 seconds from cardiovascular disease (that's heart disease and stroke combined). And that's not just for older adults; heart disease is becoming more and more common in young adults, making it important to learn whether you might be at risk.
Heart Disease is the #1 Cause of Death for Americans
Heart disease has remained at the top of America's cause-of-death list for a long, long time—at least since President Lyndon B. Johnson designated American Heart Month as a national event in February 1964, nine years after he himself had a heart attack. Every year since, American Heart Month has been an opportunity for Americans to learn more about their heart health. According to the American Heart Association, American Heart Month “reinforces the importance of heart health and the need for more research, with a reminder to get families, friends and communities involved.”
Along those lines, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute started the #OurHearts Movement to offer resources to help you learn more about ways you can protect your heart by building healthy habits. More importantly, the movement is designed to be an opportunity to connect with family and friends. After all, building healthy habits is much easier when you're doing it with other people. “Research shows having social support and personal networks makes getting regular physical activity, eating healthy, losing weight, and quitting smoking easier,” the NHLBI stated.
7 Ways To Improve Your Heart Health
There are many things you can do to mitigate your risk of heart disease. Here are just a few:
- Choose heart-healthy foods
- Lose weight
- Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week
- Manage stress
- Quite smoking
- Treat high blood pressure
- Manage blood sugar and cholesterol
For more resources on how you can improve your heart health, check out the CDC's recommendations on how you can prevent heart disease.
Happy American Heart Month!
Stereotypes can lead us to assume that only older men are at the risk of a heart attack, but heart disease impacts both men and women of any age. Check out Why We Need to Focus on Women This Heart Month.