February is known for Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, a month that we celebrate hearts, love and great leaders.
It’s also a month to take care of your own heart. February is “American Heart Month” in the U.S., part of the Million Hearts® initiative. This year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a campaign called “Start Small. Live Big.”
Here’s the takeaway from the campaign: You can live a healthier life by taking small steps to improve your heart heath. The small steps can make a big difference in your cardiovascular health, as well as your overall health. If you’re over the age of 55, living in a retirement community, assisted living community or assisted living facility, or even a senior apartment, “American Heart Month” is for you.
The biggest risks
American Heart Month is a great time to take stock of your heart health. A number of factors are in play when it comes to the health of your heart and the chances of having heart disease or a stroke.
The risks include high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which can be difficult to ascertain because they don’t have symptoms. The highest risks for heart disease and stroke include obesity, physical inactivity and high blood pressure. Smoking is also a high risk.
You can lower your risk of a heart attack or a stroke by more than 80% by lowering or controlling high blood pressure, high cholesterol, quitting smoking and improving your diet and exercising to lose weight so you’re not obese. The message is simple: Improve your heart health and elevate your quality of life by taking steps to improve how you live.
This February, you’ll have a constant reminder about Valentine’s and great leaders. Let them be a reminder to you about your heart and leading the way to improved heart health. Now that you’re thinking about it, you can take the next step to following through. Here’s how.
Have a plan with your doctor
Starting down your heart health journey is easy and simple: Talk to your doctor. That’s your first step. Here’s why this is so important.
Talking to your doctor has immediate dividends. Here are five quick ways working with your doctor helps you:
- Your doctor can check your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. This tells you where you are in terms of your heart health.
- You can also learn how to check your numbers in your retirement community, assisted living community or assisted living facility, senior apartment, or other residence.
- By supporting you in making your heart-healthy changes. It might be quitting smoking. Or starting a simple physical activity or exercise routine, making diet changes, or other changes.
- By connecting you with specialists to treat heart problems and other conditions.
- Giving you prescriptions for medicines if that’s what you need.
In these times of living in the COVID-19 pandemic, you may not have talked to your doctor in a while or kept up with your appointments. Follow through on making an appointment with your doctor so you can get started on your heart health journey.
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