Get to the Heart of the Matter on Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day people may feel compelled to make public and sometimes pricey displays of love, such as sending flowers to a sweetheart’s workplace, giving chocolates or sweets or taking that special someone out to a lavish dinner. The Tennessee Department of Health suggests giving yourself and your loved ones the gift of a healthier heart.

“Heart disease is the top cause of death in Tennessee, and claimed the lives of more than 15,000 Tennesseans in 2016,” said TDH Assistant Commissioner for Family Health and Wellness Morgan McDonald. “Everyday decisions are important for good cardiovascular health. Show some love to your heart and to the hearts of those important to you every day with behaviors and choices including following a healthy eating plan and being physically active.”

Here are some tips for showing love this Valentine’s Day:

Heart to Heart – Reduce stress with a positive outlet like physical activity, meditation or spending quality time with family and friends.

All Heart – Volunteering has been shown to offer positive emotional benefits by connecting with others, which can be good for the heart. You feel good when you do good for others!

Get Your Heart Pumping – The key to heart health is to keep moving. Aim to raise your heart rate with at least 30 minutes of aerobic, physical activity each day. Physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and keeps the heart strong and disease-free. Take a walk with a loved one on Valentine’s Day and every day!

Change of Heart – Quit tobacco use! Tobacco use is one of the greatest risk factors for heart attack and stroke in men and women, and is among the “Big Four” behaviors that are the biggest contributors to disease and death in Tennessee (along with other substance use disorders, physical inactivity and obesity). Health benefits of quitting tobacco start almost immediately and within a few years of quitting the risk of stroke and heart disease will be similar to that of someone who doesn’t use tobacco.

“We love to help Tennesseans who are ready to start their tobacco-free lives on Valentine’s Day and every day,” said TDH Family Health and Wellness Deputy Medical Director Michelle Fiscus, MD, FAAP. “Counselors at the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine are ready and waiting to help smokers create quit plans and support them as they kick the habit. Many county health departments also offer the Baby and Me Tobacco-Free program to help pregnant women quit smoking to protect and improve both their health and the health of their babies. We urge Tennesseans who smoke to call their health care providers or health departments today and ask about services to help them quit.”

Here are additional ways to keep your heart healthy for Valentine’s Day and all year through:

Heartaches – Symptoms including heart palpitations (skipping beats); shortness of breath; pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach may mean something. Know the symptoms of a heart attack like crushing pain in the chest, sweating, nausea and shortness of breath. Cardiac symptoms can feel different for men and women. Talk to your health care provider about any and all symptoms you experience.

Listen to Your Heart – If you have risk factors, symptoms or a family history of heart disease, talk with your health care provider about testing and the best ways to manage your risk and see him or her regularly for check- ups.

Heart Beats – Know your blood pressure numbers and what they mean. Many people have high blood pressure and don’t even know it. Talk with your health care provider about cholesterol checks and make sure your cholesterol is in healthy ranges. Take any medications you are prescribed as directed to manage a heart condition.

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