February is National Heart Health Month and recent news stories have also turned a spotlight on cardiac arrest and the importance of CPR to save lives. One-third of people who died in 2020 in the U.S. were killed by heart disease. High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels in the blood, and smoking all elevate your risk of getting heart disease.
Heart disease is a general term for several types of conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Coronary artery disease, affecting the flow of blood to the heart through the buildup of a waxy substance called plaque, is the most common form of heart disease in the United States. Heart disease is sometimes described as “silent” because it may develop without symptoms until a person experiences a heart attack, arrhythmia (palpitations), or heart failure.
Here are some tips about teaming with family and friends to stay heart-healthy from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:
Ask a friend or family member to walk or attend an exercise class with you on a regular basis. Mark the date on both of your calendars and call or text to be sure you follow through. Do at least 2.5 hours of physical activity every week, which is 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week.
Aim for a healthy weight
Find a friend, colleague, or family member who shares your goal of attaining or maintaining a healthy weight. Check in with this person frequently to stay motivated. Do healthy activities, like walking or cooking a healthy meal simultaneously, even if you can’t be together in person.
We are all influenced by what our friends and family eat, so ask the people close to you to join in your effort to eat healthier. Eat more fruits, grains, fish, and vegetables. Share low-calorie, low-sodium recipes.
Join an online support group to help you kick the habit. People are much more likely to quit smoking if their spouse, friend, or sibling does. Reach a trained counselor for free advice at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or check in with chat lines at BeTobaccoFree.hhs.gov and Smokefree.gov.
Team up with others to perform a relaxing activity every day, perhaps walking, yoga, or meditation. If you need someone you trust to discuss your stress, speak with a friend or a qualified mental health provider.
Get enough sleep
Sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night can help boost heart health. Stick to a regular bedtime and turn all screens off a few hours before turning in.
Track your heart health statistics, together
Keep a log to record your blood pressure, weight goals, and physical activity. If you have diabetes, keep track of your blood sugar. Ask your friends or family to do the same.
A heart-healthy lifestyle can be one of the best valentines you will ever send to yourself or someone else.