Love Your Heart

Doctor using a stethoscope listen to the heartbeat of the Black elderly patient

February is not just about roses and chocolates; it’s also American Heart Month, a time to tend to our own heart’s wellbeing. Almost half of the U.S. population has at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking) and about one in five dies from it. So, protecting your heart is just as important in life as it is in love.

The heart ensures our entire body receives the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function optimally. When the heart is healthy, so is the rest of our body. But poor cardiovascular health can lead to a myriad of health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

You can’t control all heart disease risks, such as age or family history. Still, there are many actions you can take, starting today, to support your heart.

Stop smoking

Using tobacco increases the likelihood of heart disease and heart attack. Nicotine raises blood pressure while carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen your blood can carry. Smoking can damage both the heart and the blood vessels.

Stay active

Regular physical activity is connected to lower blood pressure, higher “good” cholesterol, and better blood sugar and weight levels. Exercise can also reduce inflammation and heart disease risk. Aim for about 30 minutes a day doing your favorite brisk activity.

Eat well

A heart-healthy diet is key to maintaining cardiovascular wellbeing. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins support your heart while saturated fats, trans fats, and sodium may damage it. Cut down on alcohol, as well; no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women is the recommended allowance.

Prioritize mental health

Stress and anxiety can take a toll on your heart. Try activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or mindfulness to reduce stress. Adequate sleep also plays a crucial role in improving your ability to process stress.

Get regular check-ups

Since early detection and management can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. They can monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and overall heart health; they can also offer advice on smart lifestyle choices and help you keep any risk factors under control.

Connect with loved ones

Did you know that you can protect your heart by visiting with people you care about? Research suggests that loneliness increases heart disease risk by 27% in people over 50. Staying socially connected lowers anxiety levels and depression – which means a lowered risk of heart disease. Find time to spend time with those you love.

This Valentine’s Day show some love to your own heart! Commit to a heart-healthy future so you can enjoy more years with those who make your heart skip a beat in a good way.

Categories: Aging Well, Senior Health