February might be the shortest month of the year but it certainly is full of national holidays ad traditions. In December of 1963, President Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation making February American Heart Month and the first celebration of this important health-awareness month took place in 1964! In his proclamation, Johnson wrote, “I urge the people of the United States to give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood-vessel diseases, and to support the programs required to bring about its solution.”
According to Mayo Clinic, risk factors for developing heart disease include:
- Family History
- Certain Cancer Treatments
- Poor Diet
- High Blood Pressure
- High Blood Cholesterol Levels
- Physical Inactivity
- Stress, and
- Poor Hygiene
Symptoms that you have cardiovascular disease vary among men and women. Men are more likely to have chest pain whereas women are more likely to experience shortness of breath, fatigue and nausea. You might also feel pain in the neck or jaw, numbness in your legs or arms or other symptoms.
Don’t let February slip by without noticing your heart and doing something about it! You can celebrate American Heart Month in several ways:
Wear Red! On the first Friday in February, the American Heart Association encourages everyone to wear red to bring attention to heart disease.
Create some new heart-health habits. They say it takes 30 days to establish a new habit and what better way to take care of your heart than to start now!
- If you’re a smoker, now is the time to stop. Smoking increases your risk of developing a serious condition.
- Start a heart healthy diet that includes low cholesterol foods, eating more fish, nuts, fruits and vegetables. eating healthy is preventative medicine.
- Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise per day will help keep your heart strong and healthy. No matter what your stage of life, exercise keeps your blood flowing, keeps it oxygenated, and keeps the heart pumping. Whether you can get out and walk, ride a bike, lift weights, canoe, hike, or if you are home bound, movement of any kind will help reduce your risk of heart-related disease. However, we always encourage that you check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.
- While you’re checking with your doctor about exercise, you should also ask for tests and screenings to monitor you overall health and monitor your medications.
Along with all the above, take care of yourself emotionally and mentally as well. Find time to relax. Meditate, read a book, take a walk. Perhaps your idea of taking care of yourself is a day at the beach or a day of shopping or playing games or cards with family and friends. Whatever it is that brings rest to your inner being, make time for it. Your heart will appreciate it.