We love the month of February for a variety of reasons, with Valentine’s Day being one of the most celebrated holidays of the year – coming in at #8 to be exact! But when it comes to matters of the heart, there is a much more important reason why February is a time to show yourself some love – February Heart Health Month!
It’s the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you need to take now to help your heart. Heart disease doesn’t happen just to older adults. It is happening to younger adults more often. This is partly because the conditions that lead to heart disease are happening at younger ages. According to the American Heart Association, Americans – especially African Americans, are at higher risk for stroke and heart disease. This is alarming when statistics show that heart disease is the number one killer for all Americans and that stroke is also a leading cause of death. The most common conditions that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke are high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is the highest in the world. We are disproportionately affected by obesity. And among non-Hispanic blacks aged 20 and older, 63% of men and 77% of women are overweight or obese. African Americans are also more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.
However, it does not need to be doom and gloom or even premature death for those diagnosed with these conditions. There’s good news! As African-Americans, we can combat these diseases by learning our risk and taking action-oriented, manageable steps to address them. The first step is to get checked, then work with your medical professional on your specific risk factors and the things you need to do to take care of your personal health.
Here are a few tips you can take to lower your risk of heart disease:
1) Control your blood pressure.
2) Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control.
3) Stay at a healthy weight.
4) Eat a healthy diet.
5) Get regular exercise.
6) Limit alcohol.
7) Don’t smoke.
8) Manage stress.
For practical tips about diet and lifestyle changes to manage your high blood pressure, follow us on Facebook.
Sources: American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
About the author: Vanessa Ingrid Farrell is a best-selling author and the CEO and founder of Vanessa Ingrid Health and Wellness Coaching, LLC. We help busy women, especially those in leadership roles, unapologetically prioritize and preserve their heart health without sacrificing career and the joys of everyday life experiences.