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It’s true: February is the time to spread the love! Whether it’s to your family, friends, or your beloved pet, this week is the week to show the ones we love most just how we feel. Although you might be wrapped up in celebrating love over the next few days, there is one person you don’t want to neglect: yourself! After all, February is American Heart Month, so why not take the time to show one of the most important parts of your body the love it rightfully deserves: your heart!

This month we challenge you to take the below steps to get your heart health in check:

Manage, Manage, Mange

By keeping up with regular physicals and blood work, you can be sure you are managing your health in the best way possible. From your cholesterol to blood pressure, to diabetes, battling with high levels can do a number on your heart.

  • Diabetes. It’s not so much the glucose levels or your blood sugar levels that heighten your risk for heart disease, it’s the complications that come along with it. When you let your diabetes go unmanaged, you are at a higher risk for high blood pressure and high cholesterol — which increases your risk for heart attack or stroke. So, if you are currently living with diabetes or are pre-diabetic, talk to your doctor about how you can get your levels down.

  • High blood pressure. Constant high blood pressure, or hypertension, can affect your blood flow and over time can cause damage to your arteries. Additionally, this also puts you at a higher risk for heart attack or stroke, too.

  • High Cholesterol. As sad as this may sound, It might be time to say “bye, bye” to french fries. In fact, a diet high in trans fat increases your chances of heart disease and stroke. This is due to the fact that trans fats can raise your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lower your good cholesterol, leading to the possibility of clogged arteries.

Let’s Get Physical

Pumping iron might help strengthen your calf, gluts, and triceps — but it also is beneficial for your body’s most important muscle: the heart. With regular, moderate activity, you can give your heart the cardio it needs. Another thing to keep in mind? Keeping track of how often you sit! The more you move, the better your heart health will be — so be sure to get up every few hours for a walk.

Catch Some ZZZ’s

Yes, you read that correctly we are giving you permission to get more rest! In fact, a normal sleep routine can be vital to your health. Studies show that those who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night were twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack than those who get between 6 and 8 hours. Additionally, a lack of sleep could lead to disruption and in underlying conditions, too. If you are getting 8 hours or more and still feel tired, you might have an underlying sleep condition such as sleep apnea, and you should speak to your doctor about getting tested.

Even with good health, cardiac episodes can still occur, and if they do, you don’t want to delay seeking help. At The Dallas Medical Center, we have a full-service trauma center and ER which is always open.