Columnists

5 ways to reclaim your rhythm during American Heart Month

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths from heart disease and stroke have risen significantly and more people are reporting lower physical and emotional wellness. This February, the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, is helping you reclaim your rhythm and take back control of your mental and physical well-being.

Over the past year, many people have adopted unhealthy behaviors like skipping exercise, eating unhealthy foods, drinking more alcohol and using tobacco, which can all increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Additionally, people who had mild cases of COVID-19 may have changes to their heart and brain health due to their run-in with the virus. The American Heart Association is urging Hooisers to create habits that work best for their life, because losing even one mom, brother, friend, or neighbor to heart disease is one too many.

“Heart disease has long been the leading killer of women, but these past two years have been more challenging than ever,” said Jessica Nickloy, president of Etica Group and chair of the Go Red for Women movement in Indianapolis. “Women everywhere are having a tougher time with their physical and emotional health. It’s critical that we seize the opportunity to reclaim our rhythm and set ourselves up for better long-term health so we can enjoy the upcoming years with the ones we love.”

Incorporating music in your daily routine can help create healthy habits. The American Heart Association offers five ways to reclaim your rhythm:

  • Mellow out and reduce stress: Stress leads to unhealthy habits like overeating, physical inactivity, smoking and risk factors for heart disease and stroke like high blood pressure, and depression or anxiety. Managing stress means managing your health, so reclaim control of your schedule and build in time to invest in a healthier you.
  • Move to the music: Create a playlist that will get you moving and grooving. Staying active is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind healthy. Not only can it help you feel, think, sleep and live better, it also improves overall quality of life. Physical activity is linked to lower risk of diseases, stronger bones and muscles, improved mental health and cognitive function and lower risk of depression. Step away from distractions and to-do lists to go for a walk or meditate, – do what you need to re-charge. If you don’t take back your time, something else will.
  • Feed your soul, rock your recipes: The meaning of “family” may have changed, but family meals still make an impact. Regular meals at home with family can help reduce stress, boost self-esteem and make the whole family feel connected. Try new heart-healthy recipes that can be made at home from the American Heart Association Heart-Check Recipe Certification Program.
  • Stay on beat with your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a leading cause and controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke and can contribute to worse outcomes for people who contract COVID-19. Close to half of American adults have high blood pressure. Of those, about 75% don’t have it controlled and many don’t even know they have it. The best way to know your blood pressure numbers is to have it measured at least once per year by a healthcare professional if your blood pressure is normal and you are at least 20 years of age, regularly monitor it at home with a validated monitor and discuss the numbers with a doctor.

Keep the Beat! Learn Hands-Only CPR: Each year, more than 350,000 EMS-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States and about 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately receiving CPR from someone nearby. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Help your community reclaim their rhythm by learning the two simple steps of Hands-Only CPR: Call 911, then press hard and fast in the center of the chest. Visit heart.org/handsonlycpr to watch the Hands-Only CPR instructional video and share it with the important people in your life.

 About the American Heart Association The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800- AHA-USA1.