Make your heart happy this month

Did you know that heart disease is the cause of one in four deaths in the United States?

To raise awareness of heart health, every February we celebrate American Heart Month with tips to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. Here are ways to improve and maintain heart health from the American Heart Association:

  • Diversify your diet: Including whole foods, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, and non-tropical cooking oils, like olive or canola oil can help your overall health.
  • Move more: Aiming for 2.5 hours of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week is recommended for better health. Those numbers break down to about 21 minutes of moderate activity, or 11 minutes of vigorous physical activity per day. So, take that brisk walk at lunch, chase after the soccer ball with your child, or log some crunches and pushups during TV commercial breaks. Every little bit counts!
  • Quit tobacco: Inhaling nicotine, whether through smoking or vaping, is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, including about a third of all deaths from heart disease. If you’ve been using nicotine and are ready to quit, get support from the EX Program, a free and confidential resource available to you and your household members.
  • Bank more time in bed: Getting adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Children require much more: 10-16 hours for ages 5 and younger, including naps; 9-12 hours for ages 6-12; and 8-10 hours for ages 13-18. If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out the discounts available to you through Beneplace on meditation apps, mindfulness tools, and more.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Keeping a healthy weight has many benefits. Speak with your health care professional about what this means for you and how to achieve and maintain it.
  • Know your numbers: Understanding where you should be in terms of ranges for your A1C, Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, and kidney function can help you reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke and can give you a more accurate picture of your health. At your next well-visit, talk to your doctor about how to keep them in target range.

Healthy resources you can use

  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers information on Heart Health Awareness Month for health care providers, public professionals, individuals, and caregivers.
  • The Heart Foundation shares a summary of “What is Heart Disease?” and how it’s a broad term that is used for a wide variety of diseases of the heart and blood vessels. They also have tips and tools to reduce your risk.
  • If Cigna is your medical plan provider, log on to myCigna –> Wellness for information to help you engage and personalize your path to wellness, including:
    • Online health coaching
    • Monitoring your stress
    • Healthy rewards on your journey to total wellness
    • A health library with healthy eating tips, information on coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, modified recipes, health diet guidelines, heart failure and healthy diets and lists of heart healthy foods
    • Short, 5-minute podcasts with tips to help you this Heart Health Month

Please note, most of the information in this article was excerpted from myCigna, the American Heart Foundation, the CDC, and the Heart Foundation.