Celebrate American Heart Month

This is also available in Spanish – Celebre el Mes Americano del Corazón.

This February let’s celebrate American Heart Month by saying NO to cardiovascular disease! Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality globally for both men and women. It is estimated that roughly 17.9 million individuals worldwide succumb to complications resulting from cardiovascular disease every year. By definition, cardiovascular disease is an umbrella term that encompasses several different diseases that impact the heart and blood vessels. These diseases include heart disease, stroke, heart failure, and peripheral artery disease. To reduce your risk of developing any of these conditions and their symptoms, here are 7 things that you can do to take care of your heart!

“A heart with 3 veins showing a normal vein and blood flow, a restricted vein with plaque build up, and a severely restricted vein with significant plaque buildup.”

“A heart with 3 veins showing a normal vein and blood flow, a restricted vein with plaque build up, and a severely restricted vein with significant plaque buildup.”
Picture is contributed to blueringmedia/Getty Images

  1. Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.
  • High blood pressure is characterized as the force of our blood pushing on the wall of our arteries. Over time, high blood pressure can damage our heart and blood vessels and can lead to plaque buildup, which could bring about a heart attack or stroke.
  • High cholesterol is characterized by excess cholesterol, a fatty, sticky substance, coating the inside lining of our blood vessels, making it more difficult for our body to pump blood.
  • Check out HGIC 4367, Hypertension for more information on hypertension.
  1. Consume a heart healthy diet.
  • Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, tofu, and fish.
  • Healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, and plant-based oils like olive oil, vegetable oil, and canola oil.
  • Whole grains such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Low-fat dairy such as Greek yogurt, skim milk, and low-fat cheeses.
  1. Exercise 150 minutes every week.
  • That’s 30 minutes 5 times a week.
  • Physical activity can help us maintain a healthy weight, improve physical fitness, and improve our mental health.
  • Lowers our risk of developing other conditions such as diabetes, depression, and cancer.
  • Consider joining a group fitness class; for more information, see HGIC 4393, Get Moving with Group Fitness.
  1. Aim for a healthy weight.
  • A healthy weight is different from person to person. For more information on what a healthy weight is for you, consider talking with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.
  • FACT: Did you know that losing 5-10% of your body weight can drastically decrease your risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) or can improve your CVD symptoms?
  1. Manage stress.
  • FACT: Did you know that stress can potentially trigger a heart attack?
  • Rather than falling into a stressful rut and indulging in negative behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or eating, look for healthy ways to cope with stress, such as meditation, talk therapy, or exercise.
  • For more information on the impact of stress, see HGIC 4392, What Happens in the Body During Stress?.
  1. Quit smoking.
  • There is no time like the present; quit smoking today!
  1. Get good quality sleep.
  • Sleep is the time our body works to repair and reset itself, especially our heart and blood vessels.
  • Sleep deficiency can ultimately increase one’s risk of developing heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, or having a stroke.
  • It is important to practice good sleep hygiene (a set of practices that promote restful and restorative sleep). Read more about sleep hygiene HERE.

Resources for Maintaining and Tracking Your Heart Health:



https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/docs/My_First_Blood_Pressure_Visit.pdf \

Stirring Up Healthy Recipes

Want to learn more about how to make heart healthy choices? Join February’s Stirring Up Healthy Recipes class! Stirring Up Healthy Recipes is a FREE monthly cooking class that provides practical nutrition education to those living with a chronic disease diagnosis.

If you have not registered for Stirring Up Healthy Recipes – what are you waiting for? You can sign up by following the link HERE!


  1. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/heart-healthy-living
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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