February is American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. While Americans of all backgrounds can be at risk for heart disease, African American men are disproportionately affected more by heart disease than other races or ethnicities. Additionally, more than 40 percent of African Americans have high blood pressure, a leading cause of heart disease and stroke.
Million Hearts®, a national initiative to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017, is encouraging African American men to take charge of their health and start one new, heart-healthy behavior that can help reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
African American men can make a big difference in their heart health by taking these small steps.
- Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health. It’s important to schedule regular check-ups even if you think you are not sick. Partner with your doctor and health care team to set goals for improving your heart health, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and trust their advice.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. Start off the month by walking 15 minutes, 3 times each week. By mid-month, increase your time to 30 minutes, 3 times each week.
- Increase healthy eating. Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least 3 times each week and make your favorite recipe lower sodium. For example, swap out salt for fresh or dried herbs and spices.
- Take steps to quit smoking. If you currently smoke, quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Use website.
- Take medication as prescribed. Talk with your doctor about the importance of high blood pressure and cholesterol medications. If you’re having trouble taking your medicines on time or if you’re having side effects, ask your doctor for help.
Tools to Support Heart Health
Visit the Million Hearts ® website to find tools that can help you set heart-healthy goals that last a lifetime.
- Use the Million Hearts ® My Personal Health Progress guide to set realistic, achievable health goals.
- Track your blood pressure using a Blood Pressure Wallet Card and share results with your doctor regularly.
- Keep track of important medical information, such as family medical history, medications, hospitalizations, and surgeries with the Million Hearts® Health Resume.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Watch Mercy Health System’s #GoRed for Heart Month Dance Video on YouTube!