American Heart Month

By: Armando Arellano II, M. Ed.

As we close out the first month of the New Year, we roll into the eventful month of February which includes events like Black History, Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and also American Heart Health month! What is American Heart Health Month you ask? Well, during this month organizations like the American Heart Association and National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHBLI) raise awareness and educate individuals about the importance of having a healthy heart! Many organizations collaborate have a day to raise awareness on cardiovascular disease called “Wear Red Day”, which is Friday, February 5, 2021. The purpose is to come together and promote a healthy lifestyle and create healthy habits that will help save lives of those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Why is there a whole month on heart health you may ask? For starters, cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States, with approximately 655,000 death annually (about 1 in every 4 deaths). And with that many people dying/suffering from the disease, those closest to them are also affected.

I am one of those individuals who was affected by cardiovascular disease. My grandmother died from a massive heart attack when I was very young, my other grandmother died of a stroke, and most recently in 2012, my father had a quadruple bypass (open heart surgery). I did not suffer any of these personally, but I suffered emotionally through all the events that occurred due to cardiovascular disease. It was because of these events that inspired me to be more conscious of my health, and to help educate individuals the importance of a healthy heart. I have since been able to help my father, and others on improving their heart health for their sake and for those they love!

There are many ways you can approach improving your heart health, but to keep it simple I will list 3 areas in your life you can take action and make your way towards a happy healthy heart!

Exercise/Movement:

This might be the easiest one to incorporate into our lifestyle because of all the virtual fitness platforms available to us now! (Check out our very own Virtual Platform Trilogy On-Demand) You don’t have to spend endless hours at the gym or run for miles to feel the benefits of exercise! Exercising 2x/week for 30 minutes can help reduce high blood pressure, increase muscular strength, reduce stress and many other benefits.

Nutrition:

When it comes to nutrition, knowing what to eat can become a daunting task for anyone. Luckily, were here to keep it simple! I’m sure you’ve heard of foods that are heart healthy, but just in case you haven’t I’ll list them out for you!

  • Leafy Greens, Vegetables, Whole Grains, Berries, Nuts, Avocado, Olive Oil, Fish and Beans.
    • This study shows that consumption of even just leafy greens can significantly decrease your risk for heart disease. Now imagine if you were to implement more than just those leafy greens!
  • The Mediterranean Diet includes many of the foods I listed above, and is considered one of, if not the best diets for your heart!

Sticking to those foods, or even following close to a Mediterranean diet will help you stay away from unhealthy foods full of saturated fats, and lead you to a happy healthy heart!

Mindfulness:

People seem to overlook the importance of mindfulness and its connection to our health, especially heart health. Stress can cause various heart issues, but most commonly hypertension (high blood pressure). Stress can lead to hypertension, which can lead to atherosclerosis and an increase risk of heart attack and stroke. On the bright side, there are many ways to reduce stress including exercise and mindfulness meditation!

Research studies show a correlation of individuals participating in mindful meditation to lower blood pressure and decreased risk of heart disease! If you have not done mindful meditation before, don’t feel intimidated because it does not have to be complicated (that would be counterintuitive!).

Implement this into your daily routine and feel the benefits almost immediately! Even 5 minutes a day can help you feel better and improve your hearth health!

Being aware of the importance of heart health is one thing, but taking action is the next important step! Now that you have some guidelines and references to help you on your journey to improving heart health, you can take the step forward to move in the right direction! Applying these principles to your daily life will not only improve your life, but also for those you love as well! Because remember, your heart belongs to you and those you love the most! A healthy happy heart for all!