It’s February and even though there’s still lots of cold and snow in store for Falls Church, many people in Virginia are getting excited for Valentine’s Day (our state is for Lovers, after all).

Although this is a time of year traditionally reserved for showing love and affection through candy and other “sweet” presents, the primary care team at your Medics USA center in Falls Church would like you to think about giving gifts that are good FOR the heart as well as FROM the heart.

That’s right, with all of the red and pink hearts swirling around this year, it’s no wonder that primary care professionals use the Valentine’s Day holiday as an opportunity to encourage a heart healthy lifestyle.

Keep reading to learn more about why it’s so important to take care of your health, as well as different tips that our primary care physicians suggest can be helpful for improving your cardiovascular wellness.

Why Is Heart Health Important?

Your heart does more than just let you know when your crush walks into the room. Your heart is the key to a healthy lifestyle, and when there’s something wrong with your heart, serious–even fatal–health problems may be right around the corner.

Unfortunately, many of the things that we choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day, like special treats that are high in sugar, salt, or fat (or all of the above), and alcoholic beverages are less than ideal for for heart health.

coldfeetbuttonSurprising Stats About Heart Health In America

According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention:

  • “About 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.
  • Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370,000 people annually.
  • Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.”

“Despite recent progress, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States,” said Dr. Sheila Sahni, interventional cardiology fellow at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and UCLA Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Health Program. “Making heart healthy lifestyle choices and taking control of your cardiovascular risk factors can help prevent or slow the progression of heart disease.”

Everyday Ways To Improve Your Heart Health

Now that you have a better understanding of why it’s so important to take care of your heart, let’s talk about simple methods for doing so:

  1. Remain Active – The absolute best way to protect yourself against future heart disease is to remain active. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to run marathons or lift heavy weights. Simple, consistent activities that elevate your heart rate for at least 30 minutes, five days a week will do wonders for your cardiovascular health.
  2. Reduce Salt Intake – Foods that are high in salt, or the regular practice of adding lots of salt to foods you make at home, will desensitize your taste buds over time. Meanwhile, all that salt leads to dehydration and high blood pressure. “Salt makes your body hold on to water. If you eat too much salt, the extra water stored in your body raises your blood pressure. So, the more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure,” explains Blood Pressure UK.
  3. Stop Smoking – When most people think about the risks of tobacco use, they think about lung cancer and respiratory issues, but that’s not the only threat of smoking. When you use tobacco on a regular basis, it negatively affects your heart health as well.
  4. Watch Your Weight – Just like smoking stresses out your heart, carrying around too much body weight can do the same thing for this all-important organ. If your primary care doctor assesses your weight and indicates that you should lose a few points, take them seriously. Doing so could drastically reduce your risk of heart attacks, heart failure, and diabetes.

Visit Your Primary Care Provider For More Heart-Healthy Advice!

These are just a few of the habits you can put into place this Valentine’s Day–and every day!–to make sure your heart keeps on beating for many years to come. If you have questions about your heart health, contact your primary care physician in Falls Church for an annual exam today!