February is for all things heart related, and not just because of Valentine’s Day! February is American Heart Month, with a focus on motivating Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease.
This year, American Heart Month is more important than ever. Not only is heart disease a leading cause of death in the United States, but people with poor cardiovascular health are at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. But there is good news: There are steps you can take to protect your heart and stay healthy.
Changing your lifestyle habits doesn’t always take a lot of time or require a major overhaul—just some planning and a conscious awareness of the decisions that you make every day.
To help you get started, consider the following this February:
- Smarter nutrition. A heart-healthy eating plan contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make it low in saturated fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar.
- Stop smoking. The risk for heart disease increases with the number of cigarettes smoked daily. Quitting smoking sharply lowers the risk, even in the first year and regardless of your age.
- Stepping it up. Physical activity is one of the best ways to help prevent or control heart disease. Regular physical activity can improve cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Slimming down. Being overweight increases the risk for heart disease and other conditions. Health benefits start after losing five percent of your current weight.
- Schedule a biometric screening. Check your blood pressure and cholesterol regularly and keep them under control. High blood pressure and high cholesterol usually develop with no symptoms.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you start to feel overwhelmed, focus on making one change at a time. Once you’re ready, move on to the next healthy habit. Any step toward a healthier you is a step in the right direction.
Learn more about American Heart Month here.