In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared February as American Heart Month, a time to reflect and focus on our cardiovascular health. This month is a great time to remind ourselves about the importance of keeping your heart healthy. An effective way to focus on your heart health is to work on preventing hypertension, which can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Hypertension is commonly known as high blood pressure and effects tens of millions of adults in the US. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) many people are unaware of their hypertension or do not have it under control. Hypertension is known to increase the risk for heart disease and stroke, two leading causes of death for Americans.
Fast facts about hypertension from the CDC:
• Nearly 1 in 2 US adults have hypertension, yet only about 1 in 4 have it under control.
• 1 in every 3 deaths in the United States are related to cardiovascular disease
• African American adults are more likely than white adults to develop high blood pressure earlier in life.
• High blood pressure costs the US about $131beach year, averaged over 12 years from 2003 to 2014.
• High blood pressure in adolescents is linked to health problems later in life.
Three Heart Healthy Tips
By sticking to healthy habits, you can reduce your risk of hypertension, or lower your blood pressure. Here are three ways you can start improving your heart health:
Eat a healthy diet: Try to include a variety of foods in your diet that are rich in potassium, fiber, and protein and lower in sodium and saturated fat. Examples of heart healthy foods include: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low fat dairy products, fish, nuts, seeds, and tofu. Try to limit foods like soda, sweets, and alcohol.
Get your sweat on: Getting regular physical activity can help keep you at a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a week. Examples include brisk walking, cycling, Zumba, or using cardio machines. A simple way to break this down is getting 30 minutes of active time a day, 5 days a week.
Prioritize your sleep: Getting enough quality sleep every night can be hard to do, but it benefits your overall health. According to the CDC, not getting enough sleep is linked with many chronic diseases and conditions—such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. The CDC recommends at least 7 hours of sleep a night for adults. You can improve your sleep by making your bedroom dark, quiet, and a comfortable temperature, or avoiding large meals and alcohol before you go to sleep.
This Heart Month, you can explore shareable resources from the CDC to help you and your loved ones make heart-healthy choices and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. For more heart health information, tips, and resources for individuals and patients, visit www.cdc.gov/heartmonth.