Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific data indicate deaths from heart disease and stroke have risen significantly and more people are reporting lower physical and emotional wellness. This February during American Heart Month, the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives for all, is helping everyone reclaim their rhythm and take back control of their mental and physical well-being.
Over the past two years, evidence suggests many people have adopted unhealthy behaviors like skipping exercise, eating unhealthy foods, drinking more alcohol and using tobacco, which can all increase the risk for heart disease and stroke. Additionally, people who had mild cases of COVID-19 may have changes to their heart and brain health as a consequence of their encounter with the virus. The American Heart Association is urging everyone to create healthy habits that work best for their life, because losing even one mom, brother, friend, or neighbor to heart disease is one too many.
“Managing and reducing stress can improve feelings of happiness, purpose and gratitude, all of which can keep hearts and minds healthier, and make it more likely for people to stick with healthy habits,” said American Heart Association President Donald M. Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Sc.M., FAHA. “Managing stress means managing your health, so reclaim control of your schedule and build in time to invest in a healthier you.”
Incorporating music in one’s daily routine can help create healthy habits. As part of a collaboration with music streaming service Pandora, the American Heart Association will have a station takeover of Pandora’s Dance Cardio Radio. Three Modes featuring specially curated tracks by Pandora will be available for the month of February:
- Reclaim Your Heart: Surviving and Thriving, featuring the anthems of the 2022 Go Red for Women Real Women Class, national volunteers for the American Heart Association, each with a unique heart or brain health journey.
- Reclaim Your Day, featuring celebrated Black artists in recognition of Black History Month
- Reclaim Your Beat, featuring music you can dance to, groove to, and keep the beat, 100 to 120 bpm, for Hands-Only CPR
Curating a personal playlist can help reclaim rhythm, whether it’s cardio, meditative, or a soundtrack for resting. Additionally, below are five ways to create healthy habits:
- Mellow out and reduce stress: Stress can lead to depression or anxiety, as well as unhealthy habits like overeating, physical inactivity, smoking and risk factors for heart disease and stroke like high blood pressure.
- Move to the music: Create a playlist that will get listeners moving and grooving. Staying active is one of the best ways to keep body and mind healthy. Not only can it help everyone feel, think, sleep and live better, it also improves overall quality of life. Physical activity is linked to lower risk of diseases, stronger bones and muscles, improved mental health and cognitive function and lower risk of depression.
- Feed your soul, rock your recipes: The meaning of “family” may have changed, but family meals still make an impact. Regular meals at home with family can help reduce stress, boost self-esteem and make the whole family feel connected. Try new heart-healthy recipes that can be made at home from the American Heart Association Heart-Check Recipe Certification Program.
- Stay on beat with your blood pressure: High blood pressure is a leading cause and controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke and can contribute to worse outcomes for people who contract COVID-19. Close to half of American adults have high blood pressure. Of those, about 75% don’t have it controlled and many don’t even know they have it. The best way to know your blood pressure numbers is to have it measured at least once per year by a health care professional. If your blood pressure is normal and you are at least 20 years of age, regularly monitor it at home with a validated monitor and discuss the numbers with a doctor.
- Keep the Beat! Learn Hands-Only CPR: Each year, more than 350,000 EMS-assessed out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States and about 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes. When a person has a cardiac arrest, survival depends on immediately receiving CPR from someone nearby. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival. Help your community reclaim their rhythm by learning the two simple steps of Hands-Only CPR: Call 911, then press hard and fast in the center of the chest. Visit heart.org/handsonlycpr to watch the Hands-Only CPR instructional video and share it with the important people in your life.
Learn more at heart.org.