February is American Heart Month
Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor's office. Find more information at CDC's High Blood Pressure Web site.
Get your cholesterol checked. Your health care team should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years. Talk with your health care professional about this simple blood test. You can find out more from CDC's High Cholesterol Web site.
Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid CVD and its complications. Limiting sodium in your diet can lower your blood pressure. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber. For more information on eating a healthy diet, visit CDC's Nutrition page and ChooseMyPlate.gov.
Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for CVD. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, health care professionals often calculate a number called body mass index (BMI). Doctors sometimes also use waist and hip measurements to measure a person's body fat. If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC's Assessing Your Weight Web site.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. Remember to incorporate exercise into your day in different ways: take the stairs instead of the elevator, or rake the yard instead of using the leaf blower. Exercising with friends and family can be a great way to stay healthy and have fun. For more information, visit CDC's page on physical activity.
Don't smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for CVD. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your health care team can suggest ways to help you quit. For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC's Smoking Tobacco Use Web site and Smokefree.govExternal.
Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one. For more information, visit CDC's Alcohol and Public Health Web site.
Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your health care team about treatment options. Visit CDC's Diabetes Public Health Resource for more information.
Take your medicine. If you're taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or another condition, follow the instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don't understand something. If you have side effects, talk with your health care team about your options.
Need more inspiration? The "28 Days to a Healthier Heart" tips can inspire you throughout February and all year long. Follow Million Hearts on Facebook and Twitter for even more ways to protect your heart and live a longer, healthier life. Million Hearts® is a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
Together, we all can prevent and manage heart disease, one step at a time.
Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Blaha MJ, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2014 update: a report from the American Heart AssociationExternal Web Site Icon. Circulation. 2013 [Epub ahead of print].
CDC. Vital Signs: avoidable deaths from heart disease, stroke, and hypertensive disease—United States, 2001–2010. MMWR. 2013;62(35);721–7.