Happy American Heart Month 2023 from CareerStaff! Every February, we’re proud to join in the month-long campaign to support awareness of cardiovascular health. And this year, we’re doing so with a rundown of some tips for a healthy heart that are especially useful for nurses and clinical workers — and which may include a few pointers you haven’t heard before.
What is American Heart Month, and Why Does It Matter?
Since 1964, the American Heart Association (AHA) and other organizations have promoted American Heart Month as an opportunity to help fight back against cardiovascular disease, by far the leading cause of death among women and men alike in the United States.
The theme of this year’s American Heart Month is “Live to the Beat,” a campaign by Million Hearts® and the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion to help Black adults reduce their risk of heart disease. And they’re offering a ton of helpful resources for getting that job done, including downloadable fact sheets that can be shared with patients.
In the spirit of that campaign, let’s explore a few ways that nurses and clinical workers can help promote cardiovascular health during American Heart Month 2023.
8 Tips for a Healthy Heart from CareerStaff
Tip #1: Review basic heart health best practices
The CDC’s American Heart Month Toolkits are a great place to start, offering helpful summaries of basic steps that almost everyone can take to reduce their risk of heart disease. Specifically, they remind us all to “move more, eat healthier, stress less, work with their health care team, and quit smoking.”
By encouraging patients to engage with their care teams, the campaign is also giving healthcare providers the chance to promote these healthy living basics. And you don’t have to wait until your patients or residents bring it up, either. Especially for those who are especially at risk, like smokers or those with little understanding of nutrition, American Heart Month is a great time to offer up some basic tips for a healthy heart.
Tip #2: Get social
American Heart Month is also a great time to spread the word on heart health — or to learn more about it yourself — on your favorite social networks. By monitoring the #HeartMonth or #OurHearts hashtags on social media, you can keep up on the conversation, and help make sure that this useful info is getting out to more people.
Other helpful sources are the CDC’s Twitter page for its Division for Heart Disease & Stroke Prevention division, and the Million Hearts® LinkedIn profile and Twitter pages. And don’t forget to connect with CareerStaff on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for more opportunities to post, share and discuss tips for a healthy heart and lots more!
Tip #3: Understand the impact of Covid-19 on heart health
Even though the Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE) is expected to wrap up in May, the disease hasn’t gone away — and nobody knows that better than healthcare workers!
While the number of patients with Covid-19 continues to rise or fall in various locations, the effects of the disease go beyond the infected. For the past few years, many people have avoided getting any kind of treatment because of the pandemic — or may have postponed their usual check-ins or elective procedures. And those folks can be at a higher level of risk for cardiovascular disease than they realize.
In addition, the pandemic has led more people to engage in “unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, such as eating poorly, drinking more alcohol and limiting physical activity, that can contribute to heart disease,” as the AHA pointed out. And reaching these can require a greater level of understanding and support.
Tip #4: Focus on mental health with self-care
Stress is commonly cited as a major heart risk. In addition to increasing anxiety and depression, it can act as a catalyst for unhealthy habits like smoking, excessive drinking or eating poorly. Yet stress is also so ingrained in our lives that it’s difficult to resolve without the help of mental health.
Self-care has become a popular way for nurses and clinical workers to deal with stress in a healthy way. From breathing exercises to setting smart milestones, the best self-care tips don’t just help improve happiness and wellbeing, but they’re simple and can be done almost anywhere. And they can be easily passed on to patients, as well as family and friends, too!
> Don’t miss our 17 self-care tips for healthcare professionals
Tip #5: Spread the word about sleep
Recently, Life’s Essential 8, the AHA’s guideline for “improving and maintaining cardiovascular health,” added sleep to its list of ways to help lower risks associated with heart disease, stroke and other significant health conditions.
“Adequate sleep promotes healing, improves brain function and reduces the risk for chronic diseases,” the AHA points out. And according to the Mayo Clinic, people who “don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.”
The recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours for adults and 10 to 16 for children. But that may be a tall order for some. After all, most of us would love to sleep more if we could, and patients are usually in the same boat. The Mayo Clinic offers some guidance here by recommending that patients set a sleep schedule and stick to it — and to get checked for sleep apnea if that doesn’t work, or in cases of excessive snoring or trouble breathing while asleep.
Tip #6: Double check your oral health
Many of the experts who offer tips for a healthy heart also urge people to pay closer attention to oral care. Healthline reports that oral hygiene doesn’t just help keep teeth white and strong, but can also help remove bacteria that may actually raise the risk of heart disease.
“Studies show a link between the bacteria that causes gum disease and increased risk of heart disease,” reports the Rasmussen University Health Sciences Blog. “Taking care of your teeth and keeping gum disease at bay also reduces the body’s inflammatory response. Inflammation in the body can cause a buildup of substances in the blood that can worsen heart disease.”
Tip #7: Don’t lose heart
If you or your patients are feeling frustrated with a lack of success at making these lifestyle changes, don’t get discouraged! “Change is an important part of living with heart disease or trying to prevent it,” reports Harvard Medical School. “A jump in blood pressure or cholesterol earns you a lecture on healthy lifestyle changes. Heart attack and stroke survivors are often told to alter a lifetime of habits,”
“Little changes today can result in big benefits over time,” writes Rina Mauricio, MD, a doctor of Internal Medicine – Cardiology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. “I frequently borrow an analogy from a mentor: Think of your health as a retirement account. If you consistently save a little bit over a long period time, it grows, and you reap the financial benefits later in life.”
Tip #8: Get a New cardiac care job!
For nurses and clinicians who have the experience and training, what better way to support American Heart Month 2023 than with a new job in cardiac care? Going far past basic tips for a healthy heart, cardiovascular care provides an active opportunity to help people overcome their health challenges to live a happy, normal life.
If you’re interested in working a cardiac care job, we’ve got opportunities available across the United States! As one of the nation’s leading healthcare recruitment companies, we specialize in connecting workers with the best possible opportunities to meet their career needs and personal preferences. You can see all available cardio care jobs here, or get the ball rolling by filling out a quick application now.