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Celebrating American Heart Month
February is all about hearts, and not just the chocolate and heart-shaped candy kind that we associate with Valentine’s Day. February is American Heart Month, which was created to bring awareness to cardiovascular health and heart disease.
Did you know that cardiovascular disease, also known as heart disease, accounts for nearly 1 out of every 3 deaths in the United States?1 This shows the importance of you and your loved ones being aware of what causes heart disease, as well as ways you can identify and prevent it.
The first American Heart Month took place in 1964, as decided by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This became a designated month nine years after President Johnson had a heart attack.2
Since then, American Heart Month has encouraged people to learn more about their heart health and how they can decrease their risk of cardiovascular disease.
What you can do this American Heart Month
You may be wondering what you can do this February to celebrate American Heart Month. There are numerous options to learn more about your health and how to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system.
- Ask about your family history. Your parents or family may know if cardiovascular disease is part of your genetics, or if other risk factors, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure runs in the family.
- Learn about what you can do to keep your heart healthy. There are endless resources online to educate yourself about heart health. You can also have a conversation with your doctor on what you can do to maintain a healthy heart.
- Take part in National Wear Red Day. This occurs on the first Friday in February, and helps bring awareness to American Heart Month and cardiovascular health.
Preventing Cardiovascular Disease
Fortunately, heart disease can be preventable with healthy life choices such as the foods we consume, the exercise we partake in, and the life choices we make daily.
We’ve laid out some simple yet effective ways you can take care of your heart.
Physical activity or any form of exercise, when done safely and properly, can have an incredibly positive impact on our body and lives.
Health professionals encourage daily exercise for many reasons. One reason being that those who are overweight or obese are at risk for numerous health issues, especially heart disease.
For an example on how exercise can help prevent heart disease, exercising can help maintain weight, improve blood circulation, and manage blood pressure. All of these factors help prevent cardiovascular health issues.
According to the American Heart Association, exercising for thirty minutes daily provides tons of benefits, including:3
- Maintaining weight
- Managing blood pressure
- Improving blood circulation
- Preventing bone loss
- Managing stress
- Promoting better sleep
Eating a healthy, balanced diet can greatly benefit your heart health.
Some people struggle when trying to think of a healthy diet or a meal plan to stick to, but it does not have to be difficult. You can make small changes that can help improve your overall health.
For example, eating a diet low in cholesterol and sodium, but high in antioxidants and omega-3 is heart healthy.
Here are some ways you can promote a healthy heart with your diet:
- Stick to whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables
- Include fish in your diet that are high with omega-3
- Add whole grains to your diet
What else can affect our heart?
A healthy diet and regular exercise is the most important when it comes to living a healthy life and having a healthy heart.
However, there are some other factors that play a role in our heart health that some may not realize. These substances can sneak into a lot of our meals if we are not conscious of what we’re eating.
When high cholesterol is present, there is the risk for heart disease and other complications. This is because high cholesterol causes blood vessels to narrow or to be blocked.4 Cholesterol can also build up on the walls of arteries.
Ultimately, when blood vessels narrow or become blocked, blood cannot reach the heart or flow properly. This can result in coronary heart disease, heart attack, or stroke.
- Fried foods
- Processed meats
Even some healthy foods that contain nutrients such as eggs and yogurt may have high cholesterol. It is important to be mindful of what you are eating and your intake of cholesterol. As long as you have a balanced diet, indulging in some of your favorite dessert or fries will not affect you quite as bad.
Salt is added in to most foods that many of us eat every day, even if we do not realize it. Salt can even be used to preserve foods and is oftentimes added to food because of this.
Consuming too much sodium can raise blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease.
To be aware of how much sodium you are ingesting, here are some tips:
- 2,300 milligrams of sodium is the max amount we should consume daily.7
- Check labels on food packaging to see how much sodium is in the serving size.
- When cooking, try to add other spices instead of salt for flavor.
- When eating out, consider what you are ordering and if it could be made with excess salt. You can also request a meal without salt if possible.
There is a lot to keep in mind when it comes to a healthy heart and even more to learn, but you can start by being more conscious of what you eat and maintaining an active lifestyle.
Saber Healthcare Supports American Heart Month
Saber Healthcare is proud to support American Heart Month and furthering knowledge about cardiovascular health. As a healthcare company, we pride ourselves in learning more about what we can do to help ourselves and to help others.
Take the time to learn more about your health today and what you can do to have a healthy heart.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “February is American Heart Month.” American Planning Association, Plan4Health. Accessed January 28th, 2021. http://plan4health.us/american-heart-month/#:~:text=The%20first%20American%20Heart%20Month%2C%20which%20took%20place,a%20proclamation%20designating%20February%20as%20American%20Heart%20Month.
- “U.S. Commemorates 57th consecutive American Heart Month in February.” American Heart Association, heart.org. February 1st, 2021. Accessed February 1st, 2021. https://www.heart.org/en/around-the-aha/february-is-american-heart-month.
- “Exercise to Prevent Heart Disease.” American Heart Association, heart.org. Accessed January 28th, 2021. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/about-heart-disease-in-women/preventing-cardiovascular-disease/exercise-to-prevent-heart-disease.
- “Cholesterol: High Cholesterol Diseases.” Cleveland Clinic, clevelandclinic.org. December 28th, 2020. Accessed January 29th, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11918-cholesterol-high-cholesterol-diseases.
- Kubala, Jillian. “11 High-Cholesterol Foods – Which to Eat, Which to Avoid.” Healthline Media, healthline.com. September 10th, 2018. Accessed January 29th, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/high-cholesterol-foods.
- “Sodium.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 8th, 2020. Accessed January 29th, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/sodium.htm.
- “Sodium in Your Diet.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, fda.gov. April 2nd, 2020. Accessed January 29th, 2021. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/sodium-your-diet.