FEBRUARY IS HEART HEALTH MONTH
February is Heart Health Month and February 14th is Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day is typically celebrated as a day of romance and love where alcohol is often consumed as a part of celebrations and social events. It is important to remember to drink responsibly, but why and what does that mean?
There are several ways to keep our hearts healthy including: moderating any use of alcohol, eliminating tobacco, eating healthy foods, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and taking time for mental health and well-being.
For some, it may seem hard to stick to all the requirements for a healthy heart, especially drinking alcohol.
Ever wonder what role alcohol plays in heart health?
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems such as heart disease, cancer, learning and memory problems, mental health problems, social problems and alcohol dependence.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that if adults (age 21 and older) choose to drink alcohol, drinking less is better for health than drinking more.
Drinking a lot over a long time or binge drinking (drinking too much on a single occasion) can damage your heart.
- Binge drinking and long-term drinking can affect how quickly your heart beats.
- Binge drinking and chronic alcohol misuse can cause high blood pressure.
- Long-term heavy drinking can weaken the heart muscle, so that not enough blood is pumped to your organs, depriving the organs of oxygen.
- Binge drinking and long-term heavy drinking can lead to strokes, even in people without heart disease. Also, alcohol worsens the problems that often lead to strokes, including high blood pressure, irregular heart rhythm, and heart muscle problems.
Adults of legal drinking age can choose not to drink or to drink in moderation by limiting intake to 2 drinks or less in a day for men and 1 drink or less in a day for women. A dose of prevention is better than an ounce of cure.
For those who drink alcohol and want to cut back on your drinking, these strategies can help:
- Choose not to drink too much yourself, and help others do the same.
- Set a daily and weekly drinking limit. Write it down.
- Record how much you drink each day.
- Make a change plan and print or save it to review later.
- Set up the alerts on your devices to remind you at times of the day you need it.
- Set your phone background to remind you why you want to drink less.
- Post sticky notes around your home with motivational messages.
- Let your friends and family members know about your change plan and ask for their support.
- Avoid situations and triggers that cause you to drink.
- Ask a friend to help you stay within your limit.
- Talk with your doctor about your alcohol use.
This Valentine’s Day, make a decision to start loving yourself more and choose to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink or quit altogether.
Change can be hard, so it helps to have concrete reminders of why the change is important to you and how you’ve decided to do it.
Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink makes your heart healthier and improves your short- and long-term health. Even small changes can make a big difference in achieving a healthy heart.