Keeping Your Heart Healthy During American Heart Month

In the United States, February is designated as American Heart Month, a time to emphasize the importance of heart health and the steps we can take to protect our hearts. Heart disease is the foremost cause of death worldwide, and it affects millions of Americans each year.

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During American Heart Month, the American Heart Association (AHA) and other organizations also encourage people to wear red on National Wear Red Day, the first Friday in February. This is a way to show support for the fight against heart disease and to raise awareness about the importance of heart health1,2.

February is a good time to start thinking about your heart health and how you can improve it. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, managing any underlying health conditions, and making small changes in your everyday lives, you can make sure your heart is healthy this year.

Causes And Risk Factors of Heart Disease

The heart is a powerful muscle that pumps blood throughout the body, providing oxygen and nutrients to your cells and organs. However, when your heart is not functioning properly, it can have serious consequences for your overall health and well-being. Heart disease is a prominent cause of death in the United States, and everyone needs to be aware of the risk factors and warning signs of heart disease.

Plaque accumulation in the blood vessels is a major risk factor for heart disease. Plaque is a material composed of fat, cholesterol, and other compounds that can clog blood vessels, making blood flow more difficult. This raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.

In addition, other underlying health conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol are all risk factors for heart disease. Stress and smoking are also significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Smoking injures the walls of your blood vessels and increases your risk of blood clots. It also raises your blood pressure and makes your heart work harder3.

It is also crucial to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and to seek medical assistance if you believe you may be experiencing one. Common warning signs include chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath, and arm or jaw pain. If you encounter any of these symptoms, you must immediately dial 9-1-1 or contact your local emergency medical services.

8 Tips To Keep Your Heart Healthy This Year

Living a healthy lifestyle is one of the essential things you can do for the health of your heart. This includes consuming a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, not smoking, and having regular check-ups with a healthcare professional. You can also do numerous things in your daily life to improve your heart health.

Here are some key steps you can take to improve your heart health this year:

1.    Eat A Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is the first step you can take to protect your heart. There are several key components to a heart-healthy diet, including consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, limiting processed and high-fat foods, and managing portion sizes.

First, it's important to consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Fruits and veggies are rich in antioxidants and other healthy nutrients, which can help reduce inflammation in body and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Whole grains provide important nutrients such as fiber and B vitamins and are linked to lower heart disease risk. Lean proteins, such as fish and poultry, are also good for maintaining heart health, as they contain less saturated fat and cholesterol.

Second, it's important to limit processed and high-fat foods. Processed foods are often high in sodium, sugar, and unhealthy fats, all of which can promote the development of heart disease. High-fat foods, such as fast and fried foods, are also best avoided, as they can increase cholesterol levels and raise the risk of heart disease.

Third, it's important to manage portion sizes. Eating large portions of any food can result in weight gain, increasing the risk of heart disease. Eating more frequently and in smaller portions can help you maintain a healthy weight4.

2.    Get Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is the second and foremost step in maintaining good heart health. The American Heart Association suggests engaging in aerobic activity of at least 150 minutes per week at a moderate intensity, 75 minutes per week at a vigorous intensity, or a combination of both. Additionally, adults should also perform muscle-strengthening activities at least two times per week.

Getting regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease by:

  • Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Improving circulation.
  • Strengthening the heart and cardiovascular system.
  • Helping to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Improving overall fitness and energy levels5.

Aerobic activities, such as brisk walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and dancing, improve cardiovascular fitness and strengthen the heart. These activities should be performed at a moderate-intensity level, which means you are working hard enough to increase your heart rate and break a sweat but still be able to carry on a conversation.

Vigorous-intensity activities, such as running, jumping rope, and high-intensity interval training, are also great for improving cardiovascular fitness and strengthening the heart. These activities should be performed at a level where you are breathing hard and fast, and your heart rate is elevated.

Muscle-strengthening activities, such as resistance training and weightlifting, can help improve overall fitness and health. These activities should be performed at least twice per week and include exercises that work all major muscle groups, comprising the legs, hips, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and arms6.

3.    Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking is vital for maintaining a healthy heart because it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. If you're a smoker, quitting is best to keep your heart healthy.

There are several available resources to assist you in quitting smoking, including:

  • Your doctor or healthcare provider
  • Smoking cessation programs
  • Counseling
  • Medications

Your doctor or healthcare provider can help you create a quitting plan that is right for you. Smoking cessation programs can provide support and resources to help you quit smoking. Counseling can help you identify triggers and cope with withdrawal symptoms. Medications can also be used to help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Quitting smoking isn't easy, but it is worth it. Your risk of heart disease will decrease, and you will feel better overall. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about quitting smoking today7.

4.    Manage Stress

Stress can significantly impact heart health, and managing stress is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy heart. Stress can promote the release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which can elevate heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. This can increase the likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues.

One way to manage stress is through regular exercise. Physical activity can help to reduce stress levels by releasing feel-good chemicals called endorphins in the brain that can act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. Exercise can also help to improve sleep, which is an important factor in managing stress.

Another way to manage stress is through relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. These techniques can help slow down the heart rate and lower blood pressure, reducing the physical effects of stress on the body. They can also help promote a sense of calm and relaxation, making it easier to cope with stress8.

5.    Take Magnesium

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Magnesium is a vital mineral essential for numerous body activities, including heart health. Magnesium helps to regulate the heart's rhythm, blood pressure, and blood flow, and a deficiency in magnesium can increase the risk of heart disease9,10,11.

Magnesium is also beneficial in improving the quality of sleep, which is also important for heart health. People with magnesium deficiency may experience insomnia and other sleep disorders, which can increase the risk of heart disease12,13.

Taking topical magnesium in the form of OSI Magnesium lotions, butters, oils, gels, and flakes can be beneficial for overall cardiovascular health and correcting any deficiency. They can be applied directly to the skin and can be used for local areas of pain or muscle cramps. OSI Magnesium is dedicated to using the purest and richest magnesium oil from the Zechstein Sea.

6.    Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is essential for good heart health. Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining overall health and well-being, and a lack of sleep can enhance the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

Sleep helps to repair and rejuvenate the body, including the heart. During sleep, the body is able to repair damaged cells and tissues, lower blood pressure, and regulate heart rate. This is why getting enough sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy heart.

7 - 9 hours of sleep per night is the recommended amount for adults. However, many people do not get enough sleep, which can negatively impact heart health14.

To get enough sleep for good heart health, it is important to establish a regular sleep schedule. This means maintaining a regular sleep and wake schedule, even on the weekends. It is also important to create a sleep-conducive environment. This includes keeping the bedroom dark, quiet, and cool and avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed. Good sleep hygiene also includes avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol in the evening. These substances can interfere with sleep and make it more difficult to fall asleep14.

If you are having trouble sleeping, you can use Harmony’s Sleepy Time Gift Set to promote ultimate relaxation and a good night's sleep.

7.    Get Regular Check-Ups

Getting regular check-ups is another important step in maintaining good heart health. Regular check-ups can help to detect and prevent heart disease, as well as manage existing conditions. They also provide an opportunity to discuss any concerns or risk factors with a healthcare professional and receive personalized advice on maintaining good heart health.

It is recommended that adults have regular check-ups with their healthcare professionals at least once a year. If there are any known risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease, more frequent check-ups may be necessary.

If you have any concerns or symptoms related to heart disease, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness should be taken seriously and evaluated by a healthcare professional15.

8.    Use Essential Oils

Essential oils have been utilized for their therapeutic effects for ages, and they have been found to be beneficial for heart health as well. Here are a few methods for using essential oils to promote good heart health:

  • Aromatherapy: Inhaling essential oils can have a relaxing effect on the body, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress on the heart. You can use an Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser to disperse the oils into the air or add a few drops to a bowl of steaming water and inhale the steam. Some essential oils particularly good for heart health include lavender, ylang-ylang, and bergamot16.
  • Massage: Massaging essential oils into the skin can also be beneficial for the heart. When essential oils are absorbed through the skin, they can help dilate blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow. You can mix a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil or sweet almond oil and massage it into the skin. Some essential oils particularly good for heart health include marjoram, peppermint, and rosemary17.
  • Bath: Putting essential oils into a warm bath can also be beneficial for the heart. The warm water can help to relax the muscles, while the essential oils can help to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. You can put some drops of essential oil in the bathwater or mix the oil with a carrier oil and add it to the bath. Some essential oils particularly good for heart health include eucalyptus, ginger, and lemon18.
  • Topical Application: Essential oils such as ginger, peppermint, and garlic can be applied topically to the chest or wrists to help improve blood circulation and reduce blood pressure19.

Essential oils are good for your heart health; like other products, not all essential oils are created equal. However, I suggest you purchase Harmony's Essential Oils to improve your heart health this year. Harmony's Essential Oils are pure, organic, and tested, so you can trust you are buying health for yourself and your family. 

The Bottom Line

Heart health is a critical issue that affects all of us. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and avoiding smoking, are key to heart health. Managing stress, sleeping well, using topical OSI Magnesium Natural Products, and Harmony's Essential Oils can also help protect your heart. It's imperative to be aware of the symptoms of a heart attack and seek medical attention immediately if you suspect you may be having one. February, American Heart Month, is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of heart health and encourage others to take action to protect their hearts.

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