Why National Heart Health Month is Important

February is National Heart Health Month in the United States, a time to raise awareness about the importance of heart health and the steps individuals can take to reduce their risk of heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it is estimated that nearly half of all Americans have at least one risk factor for heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoking.

Keep reading to find out how small changes can create big improvements in your heart health.

The History of Heart Health Month

National Heart Health Month was established in 1963 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He declared February American Heart Month to spread awareness and help motivate people to make positive changes.

Americans have experienced unprecedented increases in prosperity and knowledge over the last two hundred years. This has created some unexpected drawbacks too. Having easy access to a wide variety of foods and luxury items has improved our quality of life, but it has also made it easy to put on too many pounds and not get enough exercise.

healthy nutritional food eating lifestyle for good heart health
Make lifestyle changes that can prevent heart disease (Image Source: Shutterstock)

If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything, and the heart of the matter is cardiovascular function. Nobody wants to return to staying healthy by working sixteen hours a day on a farm, so we need better solutions. Increasing the number of cardiovascular exercises you do, in combination with a heart-healthy diet, is a great way to start.

National Heart Health Month serves as an important reminder to prioritize heart health and make lifestyle changes that can prevent heart disease and improve overall health and well-being.

How to Improve Heart Health

Following CDC suggestions will give you the biggest improvements in the shortest period of time in a safe and responsible way. Here are seven ways guaranteed to help improve heart health:

Group of healthy and mature people jogging
Keep increasing your goals and you will build a stronger heart (Image Source: Shutterstock)
  1. Learn Your Health History
    When you know more about your risk factors and family history, you’ll be positioned to target the biggest risks first.
  2. Eat a Healthier Diet
    Making small changes to your eating habits is easy, like eating your vegetables first and adding heart healthy snacks to your routine. A focus on foods for heart health is essential to reducing your risks.
  3. Move Your Body
    Increase the amount of exercise you get, even if it just means going for more walks. As you get comfortable with a more active lifestyle, keep increasing your goals, and you will build a stronger heart.
  4. Quit Smoking
    You don’t necessarily have to quit cold turkey. Find things you can do to replace tobacco when you get the urge to smoke, and slowly increase them over time. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW for support.
  5. Take Your Medicine
    If your doctor has given you a prescription to improve your health, follow through. Professional advice is priceless, and your doctor can help you make the most of your efforts.
  6. Drink More Water
    First thing in the morning, drink a tall glass of water. It may surprise you to learn that water boosts your metabolism and mood. Drinking water even makes you look more attractive! When you get thirsty, grab a glass of water first. Then maybe try a Pumpkin Spice Hot Toddy.
  7. Get a Home Blood Pressure Monitor
    They are safe and easy to use and will show you how you are progressing. This will help you stay motivated as you improve your health.

Many Minorities Live With Higher Heart Health Risks

Americans of African descent need a strong focus on heart health because they are more likely to die from heart disease than other groups. There are several reasons for this, running the range from social, cultural, and genetic.

African Americans are more likely to live in poverty, have less access to healthcare, and have more trouble finding heart-healthy foods. These social stressors are likely at least partially responsible for other risk factors, such as higher smoking rates, higher body mass index, and less physical activity. These factors are improving too slowly, so it is important for individuals who are at elevated risk to be proactive.

Some studies have also shown that some African Americans may have a genetic predisposition for high blood pressure and heart disease. This situation is aggravated by the fact that they are also less likely to get appropriate medical care in a timely fashion.

The BIGGEST Risk Factor For Heart Attack ︱ Doctor Mike Hansen

These risk factors combine to make the situation worse. Addressing the underlying social causes is urgent to save lives and improve health. Until these social problems are fixed, individuals can take steps to reduce their risk of heart disease by making healthy lifestyle choices. Everyone can make improvements by eating a heart healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, quitting smoking, and managing stress.

The Secret to Improving Heart Health

Everybody wants to get in better shape, but getting it done seems to be too difficult for some. I have a secret method for you that may change your life. It is an easy, effective way to create major improvements:

The first half of the secret is to start small and stay small. If you can make a small change and be consistent with it, then you have all the willpower you need to radically transform your life. Sometimes the change is as small as being more aware of what you are doing. The second half is to involve your friends and family. Change is easier when you have support from others.

Start by writing down what you would like to change. Record it in your phone or on your computer, and consistently record your actions toward this goal every day. Many messaging apps have a function you can use to chat with yourself, or you can use Google Calendars. Don’t think you can be consistent? No problem. Just make a goal of doing it more often than you are right now.

If you get to where you can consistently write down what you’re doing for thirty days, odds are, you’ll automatically make small improvements. And you’ll be able to look back and see what you were doing a month ago to check.

I recommend you start keeping track of your heart health indicators and commit to making regular small changes to your behavior. Give it a try for thirty days and see how easy it can be to improve your heart health.