When you think of February you likely envision heart-shaped chocolate boxes, fragrant rose petals, chubby cupids and of course heart disease. Ok, maybe not the last one.
While it may not be at the forefront of your mind, February is the perfect time to reflect on whether you or a loved one may be at risk for heart disease and how you can make healthier choices overall. During this month, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has dubbed American Heart Month, the CDC challenges America to “learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay ‘heart healthy.’”
Unbeknownst to many, cardiovascular disease (including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure) is the number one killer in the US. So what can you do about it? Here’s a list of four things, according to the CDC, you can actively do to keep your heart healthy:
- Get an Annual Check-Up
Schedule an appointment with your doc to keep an eye on things like blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Your doctor can also tell you whether you’re sitting at a healthy weight and if not, can help customize a diet and exercise plan.
- Snuff Out that Cigarette
Easier said than done, right? But truly, cigarettes greatly increase your risk for cardiovascular disease. If you aren’t a smoker, don’t start! And if you are, snuff that stick out ASAP. For more information about how to quit smoking, visit http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/.
- Put the Bottle Down
While some folks enjoy the occasional glass of wine or post-work Bourbon to wind down after a rough day, having more than one drink per day (for women) and two for men, may lead to heart problems, the CDC says. So if you must, savor that glass and then tuck the rest away. Learn more about it here: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
- Take Your Meds
Believe it or not, your doctor doesn’t prescribe medications just for the fun of it. Each script your doctor hands you is prescribed specifically to treat an ailment. If you take medicine for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or other conditions, be sure to follow your regiment exactly. And if you don’t understand what your medication is, how it works, or when to take it, have a heart-to-heart with your doctor about your… er, heart.