February is American Heart Month, your chance to practice some self-love by scheduling heart checkups and taking steps to safeguard your heart health through diet and fitness. Heart disease is the number one cause of mortality for both men and women, responsible for about 1 in 4 deaths. Here’s a great downloadable Fact Sheet: Heart Smart Basics: What to Know to Keep Yours Healthy. It includes common heart-related terms, numbers you should know, and questions to ask your healthcare provider. You should also be familiar with warning signs for serious problems that require quick response.:
- Heart failure symptoms: Shortness of breath; Difficulty breathing when lying down; Weight gain with swelling in the legs and ankles from fluid retention; General fatigue and weakness; Frequent cough with frothy sputum; Increased urination at night.
- Heart attack symptoms: Chest discomfort, persistent or repetitive pain or pressure; Upper body discomfort or pain in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach; Shortness of breath; Cold sweats; Nausea; Light-headedness. Call 9-1-1 if you think you’re having a heart attack.
- Stroke Symptoms: Remember “F.A.S.T.” – Face drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; Time to call 9-1-1.
The American Medical Association (AMA) offers six tips for improving heart health to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke:
- Know your blood pressure numbers— visit ManageYourBP.org to better understand your blood pressure numbers and take necessary steps to get your high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, under control.
- Commit to a treatment plan to manage high blood pressure—work with your doctor to create an individualized treatment plan that includes healthy lifestyle changes that you can realistically stick to long-term to help you maintain a lower blood pressure.
- Be more physically active—regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Reduce your intake of processed foods, especially those with added sodium and sugar—making simple dietary changes can help you manage or prevent high blood pressure.
- If consuming alcohol, do so in moderation as defined by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans—up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age.
ESI EAP members can explore more about heart health by logging into the Self-Help Resource Center at www.theEAP.com and clicking the “Wellness Center & Physical Health” tile.
Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of February. While it can be a fun day, it’s really a commercial event that paints an idealized version of love. Don’t be worried if your day doesn’t live up to the media hype. Even healthy, loving relationships run into stormy waters that need to be navigated. See our prior newsletters Be a lover, not a hater and A Fair Fight. ESI EAP offers members excellent Self-Help Resources for interpersonal relationships, partnerships and marriage, family life, and parenting. Log in to the Self-Help Resources at www.theEAP.com and choose the “Connections/Work-Life” tile to explore articles and videos.
February 11-17 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. As the name implies, the week’s purpose is to honor and encourage spontaneous acts designed to spread kindness and positivity. Spread kindness at work, at home, and in your community. While it’s fun and gratifying to surprise strangers, be sure to also find ways to treat colleagues, friends, and family to unexpected thoughtful acts, too. Here’s a little inspiration.
Want to really make an impact? Register as an organ donor. Every day, 20 people die due to a shortage of available organ donors. A single organ donor has the potential to save up to 8 lives! National Donor Day (Feb. 14) provides the ultimate opportunity for a random act of kindness — a chance to save lives. More than 103,000 people are currently on waiting lists for lifesaving organ transplants. Learn how and why you should consider registering to save a life.
More Key February Dates
- Black History Month
- Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
- 2/2 – National Wear Red Day
- 2/19 – Presidents Day
- 2/26-3/1 – National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
- 2/29 – Leap Year Day