February is often associated with hearts and love, celebrating Valentine’s Day. Though we support showing your loved ones how much you care, we also support showing yourself some love by caring for your heart!
Heart disease was the number one cause of death in South Carolina in 2017-2019. To recognize American Heart Month, DHEC’s Healthcare Quality has put together a list of ways you can love your heart and be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
Aerobic exercise, otherwise known as “cardio”, is used to strengthen heart and blood vessels, improve oxygen flow, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly made it difficult to incorporate exercise into a daily routine. With gym closings and an at-home gym equipment shortage, many are finding creative ways to still give their heart the care it needs through exercise.
Below are some ideas if you do not have access to a gym or equipment:
Body weight aerobics like squats, burpees, lunges, push-ups, sit-ups and more
Utilizing stairs for a cardiovascular workout
Going outdoors for a walk or run
Exercise isn’t the only solution to maintaining a healthy heart.
Stress management is a tool that many often overlook as a preventative measure to declining heart health. Chronic stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors to cope such as smoking, overeating, and heavy alcohol consumption.
COVID-19 is a chronic stressor all of us have had to endure this past year. Visit this link for more information on how to manage stress during the pandemic. You may also visit DHEC’s Worksite Wellness and Safety page for health-related tips, and for resources coping with the mental and emotional strain of COVID-19, you can check out the agency’s Mental Health Resources page for employees.
Acute stress, stress that is short-term, can lead to a rise in blood pressure and heart rate. Managing stress can come in many forms. Most people would think of a vacation first, which is a great way to decompress. However, due to travel restrictions from COVID-19, alternatives are needed.
Below are some ideas to help you brainstorm ways you may want to try and relieve stress:
Painting, drawing, making music, etc.
Exercising (double the benefit if this is a stress reliever for you)
Reading (you can check out books for free from a local library)
During the month of February, DHEC hopes that one of the acts of love you show is one to yourself and your heart. By committing to leading a healthier lifestyle and managing stress in healthier ways, we can fight the statistic of heart disease being the number one cause of death in South Carolina.
As part of the awareness campaign, the partners are encouraging people to Take Brain Health to Heart and pledge to keep their body, heart and brain healthy. The Healthy Body, Healthy Brain pledge can be found at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealthpledge.
The intent is quite simple: to motivate South Carolinians to protect their brain health by taking proactive steps such as being more active and eating better. Research has shown that smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to cognitive decline. It has also found that unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and brain injury may affect the health of the brain.
The campaign features a centralized DHEC Brain Health webpage. People who visit the page and take the pledge are entered into a monthly drawing for a Fitbit; the drawings end June 30. Please visit the webpage at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealth and take the pledge.
DHEC and its partners will collaborate on a campaign that encourages people to Take Brain Health to Heart. A key element of the effort is a pledge — which can be found at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealthpledge — that encourages residents to keep their body, heart and brain healthy.
The campaign is designed to educate and mobilize South Carolinians to protect their brain health by being more active, eating better and taking other steps. Research has shown that smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes may contribute to cognitive decline. It has also found that unhealthy eating, lack of physical activity and brain injury may affect the health of the brain.
Message key for S.C.’s aging population
This is an important message in South Carolina, whose population is getting older. While Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a normal part of aging, getting older is the greatest risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, 84,000 people over the age of 65 are reported to be living with Alzheimer’s disease in South Carolina. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 120,000, according to the SC Alzheimer’s disease registry report. South Carolina has one of the fastest-aging adult populations in the country, ranking in the top 10. That population is expected to increase to 1.1 million by 2029, resulting in one in five South Carolinians being over age 65.
Over the next few months, DHEC, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Heart Association and Eat Smart Move More will jointly focus on messaging regarding heart and brain health and cognitive decline.
The campaign will feature a centralized DHEC Brain Health webpage. Each partner organization will have a link to the page, which will include health education materials, social media messages and a call to action in the form of a pledge about healthy lifestyle changes. People who visit the page and take the pledge will be entered into a monthly drawing for a Fitbit, beginning this month and ending June 30. Please visit the webpage at www.scdhec.gov/brainhealth and take the pledge.
The word is finally getting out about the devastating statistics of heart disease in women. As the No. 1 killer of women nationally, heart disease claims the lives of nearly 500,000 women annually in the United States. In 2003, the American Heart Association introduced a new initiative known as “National Wear Red Day” to inform women of the dangers of ignoring their heart health and to teach them how to improve their heart and overall health. “Go Red Day” is held on the first Friday in February and encourages women and men to dress in red clothing to show their support for heart disease awareness.
In the 15 years since the inaugural “National Wear Red Day,” there have been significant accomplishments achieved to reduce the number of women dying from heart disease, including:
Nearly 90% of women have made at least one healthy behavior change.
More than one-third of women have lost weight.
More than 50% of women have increased their exercise.
6 out of 10 women have changed their diets.
More than 40% of women have checked their cholesterol levels.
One-third of women has talked with their doctors about developing heart health plans.
Today, nearly 300 fewer women die from heart disease and stroke each day.
Death in women from heart disease has decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years.
Click here to read more about “Go Red Day” and how you can protect yourself from heart disease.