Be Your Own Heart-Health Valentine

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While there is still a mystery as to why we celebrate Valentine’s Day, one legend tells the story of an imprisoned Saint Valentine writing the first “valentine” letter introducing himself after he fell in love. Real reason unbeknownst to us, it can be said that people are enamored with celebrating Valentine’s day. A day to not just say but show how you love those nearest to you and we know people are pulling out all the bells and whistles because it is projected that $25.9 Billion dollars will be spent by US Consumers in preparation for this celebration.

In addition to Valentine’s being celebrated in February, we must also remember the other heart celebration taking place, American Heart Month. This celebration brings together many organizations such as The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, American Heart Association, the CDC, and other locally-based health agencies to bring awareness to heart disease and promote healthy lifestyle changes that can influence the quality of life you live. Cardiovascular disease is still the leading cause of death worldwide and is the reason why heart month was established back in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

With a prevention mindset, it is important leading into Heart Month to know your heart numbers. We encourage you to have established care with a health professional to record your numbers for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and body weight. Tracking these numbers with a healthcare team to keep these levels in the normal range can greatly reduce the risk of heart disease. There are lifestyle changes you can start to make now that can improve your heart health. We suggest talking first with your healthcare team to discuss any changes to your lifestyle.

It requires effort to create a heart-healthy lifestyle but we recognize that it can be new, uncharted territory in getting to a starting point of health. The American Heart Association has created a road map with stopping points along the way to help you reach your destination of heart health. Life’s Essential 8 are key measures selected for improving and maintaining cardiovascular disease. Laid out in this roadmap are health behaviors and health factors that determine your heart score:

  1. Eat Better

  2. Be More Active

  3. Quit Tobacco

  4. Get Healthy Sleep

  5. Manage Weight

  6. Control Cholesterol

  7. Manage Blood Sugar

  8. Manage Blood Pressure

It may be time to take a page of Saint Valentine’s love book and write a heart-health valentine to yourself. Write down all the reasons why you want to start loving your own heart health with defined personal goals and the ways you are going to start showing your love!

You can explore this resource further to learn more about the lifestyle aims.

Assess your heart health starting point online with the American Heart Association Life Check tool or Central Carolina Hospital’s Heart Health Assessment.

N.C. Cooperative Extension’s goal is to provide the residents of the community with research-based knowledge. For more information on nutrition, health, food preservation, and food safety in Lee County please contact the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, Ashley Szilvay at 919-775-5624.