American Heart Month
February is American Heart Month. The purpose of this observance is to raise awareness about heart disease and help motivate Americans to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent it! Heart disease is the leading cause of death, with roughly 1 in 4 deaths each year being caused by heart disease. As stated by NHLBI, this year it is especially important to focus on your heart health as those with poor cardiovascular health are also at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
Tips from Cardiologists
In a recent Heart.org article, some of the nation’s best cardiologists were interviewed about taking care of your heart during a pandemic. Listed below is their advice to consider during American Heart Month and beyond:
- Staying healthy and safe is ever-present challenge for everyone, regardless of where you are. One of the best things you can do right now, as stated by Dr. Robert Harrington, chair of the department of medicine at Stanford University, is to protect yourself and those around you. This includes wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and practicing appropriate social distancing. In addition, he recommends staying smart by keeping up to date with the latest news and research on COVID-19.
- 2020 lead to a rise in stress and anxiety levels, and so far, we are seeing these levels continue to rise in 2021. However, it is important to understand that unmanaged stress and anxiety can be dangerous for heart health. Dr. Rachel M. Bond, system director of women’s heart health at Dignity Health in Arizona, suggests finding healthy ways to cope. Whether it is meditation, exercise, or speaking with a professional, stress and anxiety management is crucial for a healthy heart.
- Dr. Ivor Benjamin, director of the Cardiovascular Center and professor of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee recommends setting small, attainable goals when it comes to your heart health. There is so much going on in the world right now, and adding an overwhelming goal to your list will likely do more harm than good. Focus on taking small, meaningful steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
How to Get Involved in American Heart Month
Listed below are ways you can participate in American Heart Month as outlined by NHLBI:
- Wear red on the first Friday of February for National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart disease and encourage others to do the same.
- Join the #OurHearts movement by sharing on social media how you’re working with friends or family to be heart healthy. Encourage your friends and family to as well. Be sure to use the hashtag!
- Join your organization’s health and wellness challenges! If one is not currently running, encourage your organization to host something in honor of American Heart Month.
- Share NHLBI’s Heart Month video on social media or play it before your next team meeting to encourage colleagues to work together for a healthier heart. Better yet, create your own to share!
- Create handouts or virtual flyers with heart healthy information and statistics to share with your organization.
- Set realistic, healthy goals for yourself. Reach out to friends and family members to communicate your goals with and ask them to join you on your wellness journey.
For even more ideas on getting involved in American Heart Month and for access to numerous American Heart Month resource kits, click here!