You’ll probably hear a lot about hearts this month, and – no – we’re not only referring to the cards, candy and decorations celebrating Valentine’s Day! February is American Heart Month, a perfect time to learn about heart health and why it’s so important.
Healthy Heart, Healthy Body
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, your heart’s health is key to the overall health of your body. Your heart pumps blood – full of oxygen and important nutrients – throughout your body, and its role at the center of your cardiovascular system makes it vital to so much else. Pun fully intended, it’s at the heart of your whole well-being.
Healthy Heart, Healthy Brain
Your heart’s health is also directly connected to that of your brain. As the CDC explains, unhealthy habits and certain conditions can damage your blood vessels, putting both your heart and brain at serious risk. Heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and dementia can all be a result of damaged vessels. So keeping your heart healthy – by keeping your blood vessels healthy – can lower your risk of brain problems too.
So what can you do to keep your heart, brain and blood vessels in top shape? Here are a five helpful tips from the CDC:
- Keep your blood pressure in check. High blood pressure can raise your risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia.
- Stay active. Exercise and physical activity help keep your heart and brain healthy. Pick something you enjoy to do – perhaps check out our fun fitness videos at hally.com/category/fitness. There’s something for everyone!
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and limit how much alcohol you drink. Have plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains and low-fat dairy. Don’t eat too much salt, added sugar or saturated fat. And eat seafood – like salmon – that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Find a whole lot of tasty recipes at hally.com/category/food-cooking. Yum!
- Don’t smoke. It damages your blood vessels and can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- If you have diabetes, work with your doctor to get it under control. Diabetes can harm your blood vessels and raise your risk for heart disease, stroke and dementia.
Talk to Your Doctor
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – talk to your doctor about heart health and what you can do to stay healthy. Ask your doctor these questions, and anything else that comes to mind:
- How can family history affect my heart health?
- At my age, what symptoms or warning signs should I be on the lookout for?
- How can I tell if my heart’s healthy?
- How can I best lower my risk of heart problems? What things should I be doing?
- What other resources can help me on my heart-health journey?
Heart health is too important to ignore – but with simple steps and your doctor’s help, you can keep your ticker in much better shape. So even as Valentine’s Day fades into the rearview mirror, let’s all vow to fall in love with our hearts, this month and beyond.
Interested in learning more? Check out our podcast about five ways to keep your heart healthy, and take a look at these helpful links:
- If your family has a history of heart disease, see this informative article from Reid Health.
- Listen to this podcast about the signs, symptoms and treatment of heart attacks, from our friends at Riverside Healthcare.
- Learn about COVID-19 and heart disease in this article from Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System.
- How are high blood pressure and heart disease connected? Find out in this blog post from OSF HealthCare.
- Watch this short video for heart-health tips – geared specifically for women – from our partners at Confluence Health.
- Discover how to sleep your way to a healthier heart in this blog from Yakima Valley Memorial hospital.