Take Control of Your Blood Pressure this American Heart Month


February is American Heart Month, a time for education about living a healthy lifestyle and learning how to take initiative against heart disease, which starts by learning about and preventing high blood pressure.

Revised blood pressure guidelines from the American Heart Association reveal that nearly half of all Americans (46 percent) have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when your blood pressure, the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high. Recently published research indicates blood pressure control has worsened in both men and women since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for middle-aged adults. It’s important to use this month to get a blood pressure screening to prevent heart disease and other health complications. Below are tips for everyone to become heart-healthy this February.

1. Get Moving: Being physically active every day is not only fun; it can also improve the function of your heart. Plan and schedule opportunities for active play; for example, include a brisk 10-minute trip around the block after meals or a 10-minute walking break during the day.

2. Rest up: Lack of sleep can be associated with elevated cholesterol and blood pressure. Adults need at least seven, but no more than nine hours of sleep at night to aid with the prevention of heart disease. Children need 10-12 hours of sleep per night. Develop bedtime routines to assist with falling asleep faster and staying asleep.

3. Revamp your Recipes: Makeover your favorite recipes by reducing the amount of salt and saturated fat and substituting a lower-fat food without sacrificing tastes. For example, use low-fat yogurt instead of sour cream, skip the seasoning packet, and use pepper and olive oil instead. Read food labels to learn more about what is in the package, and select foods that have less than 1,000 mg of sodium per serving.

4. Self-Monitor: Lowering or maintaining normal blood pressure can greatly reduce your risk for heart disease and stroke. Start self-monitoring your blood pressure using a take-home monitor or by heading to your local Dallas YMCA to use one of our blood pressure monitoring machines. Discuss the results with your doctor if needed, and consider enrolling in our Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Program to receive education in using proper measuring techniques, individualized support, and nutrition education for better blood pressure management with support from a trained Healthy Heart Ambassador.

5. Quality Time: Spending time together with family or friends is a great way to reduce stress, which is important to heart health. Make homemade valentines for your children’s classmates or even your closest fitness friends at the Y!

Learn more about our Health and Wellness Programs and see how you can live a healthy, active life!