Stay Heart Healthy Beyond American Heart Month

February 25, 2015

This upcoming Saturday marks the last day of American Heart Month this February. Throughout the month, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has worked alongside our national and statewide partners to help implement policies and programs that reduce instances of heart disease among Georgians.

We’ve announced our exciting participation in the Million Hearts initiative, connected citizens to blood pressure monitoring services and even shared important information about our efforts to reduce heart defects in infants.

Although February is almost over, there’s still an opportunity for you to learn skills that will help you live a fulfilling heart-healthy life and prevent heart disease beyond American Heart Month.

When making sustainable lifestyle changes, it’s important to plan for prevention. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease can be combated through implementing positive health behaviors that support a healthier lifestyle and manage conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes. 

Following are a few strategies based on the Million Hearts ABC’S recommendations you can start implementing today to begin your journey to a healthier heart and life:

Partner up. The journey is more fun—and often more successful—when you have company from family and friends. You also should find partners in your health care provider. Maintaining routine appointments with your physician can help you regularly monitor blood pressure, cholesterol and risk for diabetes or heart disease, which all play a part in the onset of heart disease.

Maintain a healthy weight and diet. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease as well. Choosing healthful meal and snack options such as lower sodium foods, fruits and vegetables can help you combat obesity and many of its comorbidities such as heart disease.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity activity for at least 150 minutes per week. You can incorporate exercise into your day in many simple ways such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or raking the yard instead of using the leaf blower. 

Kick your smoking habit. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease and complicates maternal health and birth outcomes. Through the Million Hearts initiative, DPH is expanding access to the Georgia Tobacco Quit Line (1-877-270-STOP) to the state’s Medicaid participants. The quit line can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to secure support, counseling services and nicotine replacement therapies.

Make small changes. The most important piece of advice for anyone overhauling their health habits is to start small. Try not to become overwhelmed by making drastic changes that you won’t continue. You can start as small as walking 15 minutes a day and increase your exercise duration each week thereafter. Or, trade in your unhealthy snacks for better options such as vegetables. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart, and every healthy choice makes a difference!

Take the Million Hearts pledge to commit to fostering more positive health behaviors for yourself and those around you. Together, we all can prevent and manage heart disease, one step at a time all year long.

To learn more about DPH’s Million Hearts participation or heart disease, visit us online at www.dph.georgia.gov/learn-more-about-heart-disease.   

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