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February is American Heart Month

apple with heartAmerican Heart Month has taken place since 1964, when it was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. More than 40 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, which is a leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, and is also the number one killer of American women. However, there are actions you can take to keep your heart healthy.

Healthy Heart Tips for Seniors

  • Exercise Often. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to a gym or working out strenuously. You can walk around the block, to the mailbox, or down the hall. The goal is to have some kind of movement whenever possible. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy heart as well as a healthy body. Even walking for 15 minutes three time a week is a great start.
  • Take Medications as Prescribed. If you have high blood pressure or cholesterol, keep taking your medications even if you feel fine. Stopping medication could affect your heart health. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about side effects. Never just stop taking medication.
  • Eat Healthy. Decreasing your intake can reduces the load on your heart. Try replacing salt with flavorful herbs and spices. Cooking heart-healthy meals for the month of February could turn into a good habit for the rest of the year. See the Million Hearts website for meal plans and recipe ideas.
  • Add Color. Along with eating healthy, the CDC recommends adding color to your diet. This means adding fruits and vegetables—the “colorful” foods. Farmers markets and community gardens can be great resources to find fresh produce on a budget. Fresh produce also helps you to avoid the added sugar and salt often found in canned or packaged foods.
  • Know the Warning Signs. While these tips are meant to help prevent heart issues, knowing the warning signs of a heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrest can save lives. Discomfort in the chest or upper body and shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea, back or jaw pain, and lightheadedness may all be signs of a heart attack. Drooping face, arm weakness, and speech difficulty may indicate a stroke. If these symptoms are present in you or someone else, call 911.


Additional Reading

Centers for Disease Control:

American Heart Association:

The Heart Foundation:

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