February is the month for hearts and flowers, and we don't just mean the ones that go with Valentine's Day Romance. This month the American Heart Association sponsors American Heart Month.

Heart disease causes 1 in 4 deaths in men and women, making it the leading cause of death. Make this month about starting or continuing heart-healthy habits for yourself and encouraging other East Texans to do the same.

How to Keep Your Heart Healthy

You can start improving your heart health today when you do the following:

  • Quit smoking. It's one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from heart disease.
  • Manage blood cholesterol. An imbalance can lead to heart attack or stroke.
  • Manage your diabetes.
  • Stay active. Get regular exercise at least four days a week.
  • Stay within a healthy weight range.
  • Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less salt and saturated fat.
  • Limit alcohol intake.
  • Evaluate your stress level. Take breaks throughout the day to take a deep breath and relax.

Ideas for Making a Difference

People mean to take better care of themselves, but our society is busy. This month, show others how much you care about them by taking action.

  • Share this article on social media! Challenge friends and family members to join you in improving heart health this month.
  • If you're the cook in your household, help your family members consume less sodium by using herbs instead of salt.
  • Try being active together before settling down on the couch for the evening. Take advantage of longer days by going for a walk after dinner or playing catch in the back yard.
  • Find out what opportunities your child has for physical activity during the school day. If your child doesn't regularly go to recess, communicate how important it is for overall health.
  • At work, team up with a friend or group. Commit to taking a brisk, 10-minute walk every day on your lunch break.
  • Join the American Heart Association's You're the Cure initiative to receive heart healthy news and tips. Then forward them to those you care about!

If you're making heart health a priority this month, we want to hear about it. Let us know what you're doing in the comments!