The Perfect Valentine’s Gift: Caring for Your Heart

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Caring for Your HeartValentine’s Day, the biggest Hallmark holiday of the year, comes smack-dab in the middle of February. Americans typically spend about $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day, buying gifts, candies, chocolates, and more.

February is also American Heart Month, and cardiovascular disease—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—costs the United States more than $300 billion each year. It’s also the number-one killer of American men and women and a leading cause of disability.

In addition to celebrating your love for somebody else this Valentine’s Day, show a little love for yourself throughout the month by taking a little bit better care of your heart.

Preventing Cardiovascular Disease and Death

Many deaths resulting from cardiovascular disease are preventable. And although death rates have declined for people aged 65–74, they haven’t changed for those under 65, with men being more than twice as likely to be killed by the disease as women. It’s time to get the message and take action to ease the burden on your heart by making heart-smart decisions—decisions that can ultimately save your life.

The risk factors you can likely control are blood pressure, smoking, diet, cholesterol, and activity levels. These things are almost entirely determined by the decisions you make in the grocery store and how you elect to spend your time.

Tips for Heart Disease Prevention

Get Active

By adopting a more active lifestyle, something as simple as going for a brisk walk for 20–30 minutes per day, you can greatly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Even spending just a little more time on your feet every day can have benefits.

Eat Right

Choosing healthier meals and snacks the majority of the time is also a way to lower cholesterol, improve body composition, lessen the burden on your heart, and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Including more fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acid sources, whole grains, lean proteins, and fiber, and limiting saturated fats, added sugars, trans fats, and high-sodium options is the best way to do this.

Watch Your Blood Pressure

Because there are no noticeable symptoms of high blood pressure—at least not until it’s at a critical point—it’s important to pay attention to it and your lifestyle choices. Have your doctor check your blood pressure regularly and keep an eye on it yourself, so you’re aware of what lifestyle changes you may have to make and how far you have to go to keep your heart healthy. An ideal range for healthy blood pressure is under 120 mm/Hg for systolic blood pressure (the top number) and less than 80 mm/Hg for diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).

This February, participate in American Heart Month by taking a little extra care of your heart. Try doing things to promote heart health, so your heart will keep you going well into the future. Show your Valentine how much you love them by doing your best to stick around a little longer.

Source for Today’s Article:
“Americans to spend $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day,” KWWL web site, February 3, 2015;
“February is American Heart Month,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site, February 12, 2014;, last accessed February 3, 2015.