Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are responsible for taking approximately 17.9 million lives each year, making it the number one cause of death globally.
Related to this unfortunate statistic, physical inactivity is one of the leading causes of CVDs. In our current COVID-19 climate, the sedentary lifestyle that so many have been forced into only adds to those numbers.
Along with physical inactivity, other factors can have a large impact on our heart health, like an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, harmful use of alcohol, and the air we breathe.
Breathing in particulates, (the tiny particles or droplets that float in polluted air), puts you at a higher risk of heart and brain problems. Most air quality standards consider particles that are 2.5 microns or less in width (also known as PM2.5) to be a major source of chronic health impacts for indoor environments. The sources of these particles include cooking, candles, and outdoor air, and require an air filter rated at MERV 10 for removal.
American Heart Month and Heart Health
To get started on making heart health a priority for you and your family, you can join the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and The Heart Truth® program for their February American Heart Month Campaign.
This year they’re focusing on themes for each day of the week:
- #SelfcareSunday – Create your self-care checklist for the week.
- #MindfulMonday – Know your blood pressure numbers and other heart stats. Manage any pre-existing health conditions with regular check-ups and by taking the medicine you’ve been prescribed.
- #TastyTuesday – Try a tasty, heart-healthy recipe.
- #WellnessWednesday – Put your heart into your wellness routine. To ensure you’re working out in Healthy Air, you might need to change where and how hard you work out–especially in regions with poor outdoor air quality. Avoid exercise that will result in heavy breathing if you are near high traffic roads, power plants, or even a gym with poor ventilation.
- #TreatYourselfThursday – Treat your heart to some relaxation and fun.
- #FollowFriday – Share who inspires you to show your heart more love.
- #SelfieSaturday – Post about your favorite way to take care of your heart. Be sure to include #OurHearts in your post.
Whether it’s American Heart Month or not, your heart health is something to take seriously. Here are a few more ways you can take care of your heart any time of the year:
- Don’t smoke – One of the best things you can do for your heart is to quit smoking and/or limit your exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Do an Air Check – Before heading out to work, school, or to play, you can check your local air quality index. Green means go on this rating scale and shows it’s safe for everyone to spend time outside. People with health conditions, however, should limit the time they spend outdoors when a yellow or orange rating is given.
- Purify your Air – Invest in an Aprilaire Air Purifier for your home and office to remove pollutants. Reducing the number of particulates in the air can lower blood pressure and inflammation to ensure a healthy heart.