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It’s February, which means Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. February is also American Heart Month—making this month the perfect time to think about keeping your heart healthy for yourself and for those you love.

President Lyndon B. Johnson declared the first American Heart Month in 1964. Ever since then, the month of February has been dedicated to cardiovascular health.

Cardiovascular disease refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain or stroke. It is our nation’s number one killer of both men and women, but steps can be taken to reduce your risk.

Your lifestyle is your best defense against heart disease and stroke.

You can make a big difference in your heart health by taking steps to live heart healthy during the month of February and beyond. The American Heart Association defines a heart healthy lifestyle as:

  • Stopping smoking
  • Choosing good nutrition
  • Controlling/lowering high cholesterol
  • Controlling/lowering high blood pressure
  • Being physically active every day
  • Aiming for a healthy weight
  • Managing diabetes
  • Reducing stress
  • Limiting alcohol

Adopting a heart healthy lifestyle is a tall order.

There is nothing easy about living heart healthy. It takes a big commitment. But there is also nothing easy about living with cardiovascular disease and the threat of a heart attack or stroke. Following are three tips to help you create healthy habits:

  1. Create your goal. Make it realistic. If you want to stop smoking, for example, make your goal for the week to be looking for cessation programs or reading all you can about quitting. A good place to start is the American Lung Association.
  1. Write it down and be specific. Instead of writing, I want to get in better shape, write I will work out three times a week for 30 minutes. Instead of writing, I want to eat healthier, write I will eat three servings of vegetables a day. Then write down why your goal is important to you.
  1. Put your goal someplace visible. Post it on your mirror, in your car or near your computer.

Stay positive. It may be hard work. But your health is worth it.

One more heart healthy tip

If you haven’t already, sign up for CarePlus—a free concierge healthcare service designed to help you get and stay healthy. When you sign up for CarePlus our team will help you:

  • find the right doctor
  • get appointments quickly
  • get faster access to your medical information—like lab results
  • obtain referrals to specialists and the pre-authorizations you may need
  • get your insurance questions answered