February: Heart Health Month
February is American Heart Health Month! This month is dedicated to raise awareness that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is largely preventable.
Nearly 1 in 2 adults in the United States have hypertension (high blood pressure), yet only about 1 in 4 have it under control. Now more than ever having control over your blood pressure is important. Hypertension usually doesn’t have any symptoms and many people who have it, don’t know it. The only way to know is to check your blood pressure regularly and to get an annual physical. You can help keep your blood pressure in a normal range and lower your risk for heart disease by living a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle includes:
1. Limiting alcohol use
2. Not smoking
3. Maintaining a healthy weight
4. Eating a well-balanced diet
5. Getting enough regular exercise
It’s important to know that hypertension doesn’t happen to just older adults. About 1 in 4 adults aged 20 to 44 have high blood pressure. Doctors believe we’ve seen an increased number of strokes in this age group because of the rising rates of obesity, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes – conditions that are both preventable and treatable.
You can get your blood pressure checked at your doctor’s office, pharmacy, or local urgent care. You can also check it in the comfort of your home if you have a blood pressure monitor. Ask your doctor or healthcare team what your blood pressure numbers mean and if they’re too high. Stick to your treatment plan and follow your doctor’s advice if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure.
The pandemic has not only caused people to delay critical medical check-ups, but many are more stressed. Though stress happens and it’s hard to avoid, you can change how you respond to it. Research shows that stress can make us more likely to get heart disease and have a heart attack. Finding healthy relaxation exercises is just one way to protect your heart. Combine de-stressing with other heart-healthy habits: eat nutritious foods, move your body more and exercise, get enough sleep, and develop a strong social support system.
Next time you are with your doctor, ask how you can keep healthy blood pressure levels and how often you should have your blood pressure checked. Take control of your heart health now. Even if you feel normal, your health may be at risk.