6 Ways to Improve Heart Health During American Heart Month

Taking small steps now to prevent heart disease goes a long way to improving your overall health and wellbeing.

When you think of February, what comes to mind? Valentine’s Day cards, boxes of chocolate and celebrating with loved ones? February is also American Heart Month and it’s a perfect time to focus and take care of your heart. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, and one in four deaths each year are caused by heart disease.

While many people believe CVD usually comes with old age, it’s not true, it’s just a myth. Prioritizing your heart is an important part of your overall health and you can protect it by eating healthy, managing stress, getting quality sleep, moving more, staying healthy and reducing social isolation.

Eat the Rainbow

Add more color to your diet by eating more fruits and veggies each day. Fruits and vegetables contain fiber, vitamins and minerals, which promote a heart-healthy diet and help control weight and blood pressure. Studies show that keeping a food diary can help people make more mindful decisions.

Keep Your Stress in Check

We all deal with stress differently. Chronic anxiety and stress increase the risk of heart disease but there are many things you can do to minimize the harmful effects. You can reduce stress by engaging in new and old hobbies and activities. Other stress relievers include deep breathing exercises, yoga, taking a walk, interacting with a pet, or connecting with friends.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

When you don’t get enough sleep or good quality sleep, it disrupts your metabolism and blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Avoid too much caffeine in the daytime and establish a bedtime routine to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep. Also, older adults may benefit from a short nap in the afternoon.

Move Your Body

Regular physical activity is essential for a heart healthy lifestyle. For older people, it only takes 20 to 30 minutes of moderate activity to help lower blood pressure and improve heart health. Exercise can include taking a fitness class, walking around the neighborhood, doing chair aerobics or even chores.

Stay on Top of Your Health

Know your numbers and be mindful of your health. Schedule regular checkups with your doctor to monitor your blood pressure, other vital signs and symptoms of any diseases. And don’t forget to keep those regular visits to your dentist. Recent research suggests gum disease may raise your risk of heart disease.

Reduce Social Isolation

People who are socially isolated or lonely are 40% more likely to have a heart attack or stroke and are at the same risk as smoking. Loneliness is more common nowadays because more people live alone. The findings suggest that a stronger social network, maintaining existing relationships and forging new friendships is effective in disease prevention.

It’s never too late to invest in your heart. Taking small steps to prevent heart disease can go a long way to improving your overall health and wellness.