Valentine’s Day isn’t the only notable celebration in February. It’s also American Heart Month. Cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S. This month, when matters of the heart are generally celebrated with chocolates and flowers, the American Heart Association asks us to focus on a few small changes that can make a big difference in our heart health:

  • Get active.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Watch your weight.
  • Eat better. Eat less.
  • Avoid packaged and over-processed food.
  • Share your love and show up for life fully present with a whole heart.
  • Connect the mind, body and spirit.

And, don’t forget to laugh. As the American Heart Association says, “Laughter just might be the best medicine for stress management but there are other healthy habits that can also help reduce stress.” And that, of course, is where we come in. Spatheology, an urban oasis dedicated to creating your ultimate Asheville NC spa experience, celebrates American Heart Month with a variety of therapeutic services designed to reduce stress and strengthen the mind-body-spirit connection.

As one of the leading spas in North Carolina, we’d also like to contribute to the conversation regarding a disease that may affect many of our patrons. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women. One of the leading causes of both heart attacks and strokes is high blood pressure. (Researchers now have connected high blood pressure with the development of dementia, too.)

You probably know someone who is being treated for high blood pressure. Almost a third of all American adults are dealing with high blood pressure – and almost half of them don’t have the problem under control, according to Million Hearts, a national initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2022 launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2011.

This year, the focus of American Heart Month is on younger adults – those ages 35 to 64 (many of whom just love being referred to as “younger”!). “In many communities across the U.S., death rates are actually increasing among adults in this age group,” the experts at Million Hearts report. “Not only are more younger adults dying of heart disease, but their rates of risk factors—such as physical inactivity, tobacco use, and hypertension—are also increasing.”

Many of our clients at the Spatheology spa in Asheville NC are in this age group, so when we saw that the Million Hearts initiative was asking for help in spreading the word and helping those at risk to take control, we were happy to do our part.

We can all reduce the risk of heart disease by making certain lifestyle changes and taking control of our health. Like the American Heart Association, the Million Hearts initiative encourages us to get moving. Their recommendation is to include at least 150 minutes of physical activity in your schedule each week. You don’t have to go the gym – take a walk with colleagues on your lunch break, get your family to put their phones down and join you for a game of soccer or grab your gal pals and hit the dance floor. If you find an activity you enjoy, you’re much more likely to make it a regular part of your routine.

It may be time to rethink some of your food choices, too. Small changes could make a big difference. On the Million Hearts website, they suggest making healthier versions of some of your favorite dishes. You can substitute ingredients to reduce things like sodium and trans fats. The easiest change you can make is to make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

And if you still smoke, quit! Now! For good! Please! As Million Hearts reports, “Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products affects nearly every organ in your body, including your heart.” Quitting isn’t easy, but there are resources you can draw on to help you. To get started, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669).

Of course, when it comes to reducing stress you already know who to call – the best day spa in North Carolina, Spatheology!