February is American Heart Month

Updated Aug 12, 2014

The past few times I’ve been to the doctor’s office my blood pressure has been higher than it should be — not good given that I’m only in my late 20s and have a family history of high blood pressure. I’ve always struggled with weight, but I’ve never really struggled with health until now. It’s hard for me to ignore the fact that my higher-than-normal blood pressure is likely directly related to my weight — I am considered clinically obese at my height.

The weight issue has always seemed an insurmountable goal to me, but add a health concern on top of that, and it’s even more daunting. I spoke recently with Dr. Alan Gass, medical director of heart transplantation and mechanical circulatory support at Westchester Medical Center in New York, and he offered some sound advice for people in a situation like mine: Simply start with achievable goals. “If you can basically subtract some not good foods and filter in some exercise, starting out with about three times a week, that will make a really big change in someone’s health,” he says.

High blood pressure and other heart-related problems are extremely prevalent in the United States, with cardiovascular disease accounting for about one in every three deaths, according to the American Heart Association. More than 74 million Americans have high blood pressure. And these problems are thought to be closely connected with other diseases and disorders, like diabetes and sleep apnea. Altogether, it’s a laundry list of problems that can cause you to lose your CDL.

February is American Heart Month, as designated by the American Heart Association, and we want to encourage you to consider your heart health during this month. You’ve probably had your blood pressure and cholesterol checked in the past year; if those numbers are bad, try to come up with one or two changes you will make this month that could make a difference in those.

I plan to cut down on sugary and caffeinated drinks, while drinking more water. It may seem like a small step, but the small steps are what add up to life-changing and life-saving differences.