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Valentine's Day is coming, a wonderful time to let your favorite people know how much you love them. But heart health is the gift that keeps on giving all year long. Make sure to take good care of yourself, this year! A heart-healthy lifestyle includes knowing your body, managing stress, getting more sleep, sunshine and exercise, making good food choices and maintaining good oral health. Here’s how to keep your hearth strong and healthy:

Get smart about your heart: Knowing the warning signs and best tips for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease can save one's life. We tend to think that heart attacks are all about a crushing pain in the chest, but that’s not always true. Women, especially, may experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. And roughly 1-in-5 incidents are silent heart attacks, causing damage to the heart muscle without recognizable symptoms to the person suffering the attack.

Make sure you’re getting enough sleep - Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night raise their risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Why? In part, because when you are sleeping, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep problems means your blood pressure stays higher for a longer period of time. Find out more about sleep and heart health here.

Manage stress – yes, we’re all struggling with stress overload these days. But try to find ways to manage it, such as yoga, improvements to your https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/insomnia/#good-sleeping-habits, or therapy to help you better manage stress – and it’s really important to calm down. Your body goes into caveperson mode when you’re stressed out. Your brain prompts your adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol that are useful in helping you to fight the threat or run away from it very quickly. But an overabundance of adrenaline in your system can cause high blood pressure which is (see above) really bad for your heart, headaches, upset stomach, heartburn, sore throats and teeth grinding.

Move your body - Regular exercise not only burns calories and shapes your body, it also protects your heart. How? Like other muscles, your heart becomes stronger with regular physical activity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, your heart muscle doesn't have to work as forcefully to pump blood through your body. And don’t forget to make healthy eating choices!

See your dentist - People with periodontal disease – gum infection and tooth decay – appear to be at a higher risk of having or dying from a heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Make sure to have a good at-home dental hygiene routine (for starters, that means brushing your teeth for three minutes, with a soft brush, twice a day and flossing). And see your dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months - or more, as needed. Follow your dentist’s guidance. Think you can’t afford regular dental care? Good news: You can! Dental savings plans are an affordable alternative to traditional dental insurance which provide plan members with 10-60% off most dental procedures. Many plans also include savings on vision, hearing, chiropractic care and prescription drugs, and some even have huge discounts on telehealth services. Learn more about dental savings plans here .



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