February is American Heart Health month

Published 5:53 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2015

From JaNell Lewis, Beaufort County Health Department


Most people think about hearts and the color red during February due to Valentine’s Day. However, in the health community, we also think about heart health. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both men and women in Beaufort County and is responsible for one in four deaths. Heart Health month is meant to encourage everyone to be more aware of their heart’s health; not just in February, but throughout the entire year. The American Heart Association offers several recommendations to help keep your heart healthy, which they have labeled “Life’s Simple 7.”

These seven tips are great ways to help prevent the onset of heart disease. These tips include: get active, control your cholesterol, eat better, manage your blood pressure, lose weight, reduce blood sugar, and stop smoking. Being active helps increase the length and quality of your life. Taking control of your cholesterol is also important because it helps decrease the amount of blockages in your arteries. Making healthier eating choices is something you have all heard before. Eating healthier is of great importance due to the positive effects it has on your overall health and body. Eating healthier is key to managing your blood pressure, which helps reduce strain on your heart, arteries and kidneys. Losing weight is always a tedious task for us; however, it is of high importance. When you lose weight, you reduce your chance of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Whether you are affected by diabetes or not, reducing blood sugar is very important. When you are able to reduce your blood sugar, you are able to protect many of your vital organs. Last but not least, the final tip is to quit smoking. For those of you who smoke, it is never too late to quit. When you quit smoking, your lungs benefit immediately and blood flow to your heart increases.

Though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, the good news is it is preventable. Keep in mind even small changes in your lifestyle can have a great impact on your heart health. These changes could be parking farther away from the grocery store, using more herbs and spices rather than salt when cooking or tracking your daily calorie intake. Remember what the American Heart Association says, “My heart. My life.” The decision to change your lifestyle and improve your health is up to you.

For more information on heart health, you can visit www.heart.org. There is a free self-assessment for anyone interested offered at mylifecheck.heart.org. Beaufort County Health Department is also available to help provide you with heart health information or ways to improve your lifestyle. Contact Kimberly Matthews at 252-940-6521 or Kimberly.matthews@bchd.net for more information.