A lot of the heart-focused attention during February surrounds your love life. And your relationships—with friends, family, and significant others—are important. But so is your actual heart, which is why February marks American Heart Month.
In the United States, heart disease is the number one killer, responsible for one in four deaths. Occurrence of the disease is related to weight, ethnicity, congenital diseases, and having relatives who have had heart disease, according to the CDC. But there are many ways to lower your risk of heart disease—as it turns out, a well-tended heart will tend to perform well over your lifetime.
Find out five ways to ensure good heart health this February, and all year round.
- Know Your Heart
Do you have relatives with a history of heart disease? Tell your doctor your family history during your visit—and make sure you are visiting the doctor annually, or as often as is recommended in your age range. Your checkup will help you catch problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.
Checking for blood pressure is particularly important, since there are often no symptoms when it’s high. You can often check your blood pressure for free at the pharmacy, so consider doing that as well.
- Work Out
Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, which is important because obesity or excess weight contributes to heart disease. But engaging in thirty minutes of exercise a few times a week will also help you keep your cholesterol and blood pressure. Go to the gym, take a class, or just make an effort to walk more. Even simple changes, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a difference.
- Eat Healthy
The other side of maintaining your weight? Eating healthy—and it’s important not only for preventing excess pounds, but for ensuring that you’re not filling up on salt and bad fats. A high intake of sodium can lead to high blood pressure, and should be avoided. Make sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables. See more guidelines for a heart-healthy diet.
- Don’t Smoke
In case you needed another reason to quit—beyond yellowed teeth, increased risk of lung cancer, stinky breath and clothing—know that smoking tobacco is also harmful to your heart. Quitting smoking is good for your body, and particularly your heart.
- Go Red
February 6th is Go Red for Women Day, which raises awareness of the impact of heart disease on women. For decades, heart disease was seen as a man’s problem—but as it turns out, one in three women will die from a stroke or heart disease. Those are terrifying numbers. Find out your risk for heart disease, get tips for how to live healthy, and on Friday, February 6th, wear something red to remind everyone around you of the importance of living a heart-healthy lifestyle for both men and women.
What will you to help your heart this February? Share your ideas on Twitter and Facebook! #hearthealth @getyourmoodon