Time to prioritize heart health


American Heart Month is an annual observance dedicated to raising awareness about heart health and cardiovascular diseases. It serves as a reminder to prioritize heart-healthy lifestyles, learn about heart disease prevention and support those affected by cardiovascular conditions.

Each February this month-long initiative focuses on heart health and cardiovascular disease prevention. It aims to educate individuals about the importance of maintaining a healthy heart and making lifestyle choices that support cardiovascular well-being. Heart disease remains a leading cause of death worldwide, and this observance seeks to reduce its impact through awareness and action.

Heart Month is celebrated throughout the month of February. February is chosen because it is a time when many people reflect on matters of the heart, including love and relationships. It is a fitting opportunity to also emphasize the importance of heart health.

Improving heart health involves making conscious choices to reduce risk factors and adopt heart-healthy habits. Here are some ways to promote heart health during Heart Month and beyond:

• Eat a balanced diet: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy products. Limit saturated and trans fats, sodium and added sugars.

• Exercise regularly: Engage in physical activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Activities like walking, cycling and swimming can help improve cardiovascular fitness.

• Quit smoking: If you smoke, seek support to quit smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease.

• Manage stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga to reduce the impact of stress on your heart.

• Monitor blood pressure: Check your blood pressure regularly and work with your healthcare provider to manage it within a healthy range.

• Control cholesterol: Maintain healthy cholesterol levels by following a heart-healthy diet and, if necessary, taking prescribed medications.

• Maintain a healthy weight: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight through a combination of balanced eating and regular physical activity.

• Limit alcohol consumption: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to heart problems.

• Get adequate sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support heart health.

The goal of Heart Month is to reduce the prevalence of heart disease and stroke by educating the public, advocating for policies that support heart health, and funding research into cardiovascular conditions.