We associate the month of February with hearts because of Valentine’s Day. However, there’s another reason why: it’s American Heart Month. The heart is one of the most important organs in our bodies and building awareness this month is important for our communities. Why? Unfortunately, it is no secret that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in Americans every year. The CDC finds that, “One person dies every 34 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2020—that’s 1 in every 5 deaths.”
Although heart disease is common in Americans, there are ways to protect yourself and detect symptoms right away. We outlined the risk factors of heart disease and what you can do to minimize that risk for you and your loved ones.
Are You at Risk?
By living a healthy lifestyle, you can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels normal and lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack. Be aware of the following risk factors that can put people at a higher risk for heart disease. These include:
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Overweight and obesity
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol and substance use
What You Can Do
Whether you are at risk for heart disease or taking a preventative approach, there are several ways to change your lifestyle.
- Get moving! When you exercise you are working your heart as well as your body. It lowers your blood pressure, helps maintain a healthy weight, and helps with stress.
- Eat a healthy diet: Limiting salt, sugar, and alcohol from your diet can help decrease your blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight: To find out if your weight is in a healthy range, you can calculate your Body Mass Index (BMI)at CDC’s Assessing Your Weight website.
- Get a good night’s sleep: Need tips? Read our Wellness Works article on sleep habits.
- Get regular health screenings: The American Heart Association recommends these screenings and lists how often to get checked. Click here for more information.
Whether it is practicing healthy habits, reducing stress, or seeking medical professional help, there are several strategies employers can share with employees to support workplace physical and mental health. Click here for additional employer resources.