February is all about heart. There’s Valentine’s Day, with all the love, heart-shaped chocolates, and last-minute dinner reservations that go along with it. But it’s also American Heart Month. And It turns out unrequited love is not the biggest threat to your heart this time of year. It may be air pollution.
As we discussed in a previous post, cold winter air can increase pollution and worsens the quality of air you’re breathing in. This makes February the perfect time to take a closer look at the link between air quality and heart health.
The Full Impact of Air Pollution on Heart Health
According to the EPA, there is a direct link between air pollution and atherosclerosis, which is a buildup of plaque in the coronary artery. This can lead to heart attacks, heart disease, stroke, and even kidney problems.
The effects of pollution on your heart health can be short or long-term. For the elderly or those already dealing with heart disease, being exposed to polluted air can quickly make their conditions worse. And for those who spend years in polluted environments can lead to problems down the road.
Simply put, the connection between long-term exposure to air pollution and heart disease should be taken seriously. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your exposure to air pollution, and find ways to minimize your risk.
American Heart Month Heart Health tips
Of course, there are many more factors to heart health than just air pollution. Here are a few general tips for improving heart health, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
- Encourage family members to make small changes like using spices to season their foods instead of salt.
- Motivate kids to get active every day, and start good habits early in their lives.
- Talk to your doctor about steps you can take to ensure a lifetime of good heart health.