February is American Heart Month

Improve your overall health with some of these simple steps.

February is American Heart Month, and according to the CDC, about 610,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease every year. On average, 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure, and 735,000 Americans will have a heart attack each year. To reduce your heart-related health risks, consider making one or more of these lifestyle changes:


Lower your blood pressure

Angela Parker, MSN, RN—project manager of the Blood Pressure Ambassador Program at Christiana Care—stresses the importance of regularly checking your blood pressure and knowing your numbers. 

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The Blood Pressure Ambassador Program at Christiana Care, which targets Wilmington and its surrounding areas, is a great way to both get involved in your community and improve your heart health. Volunteers are recruited to help prevent and bring awareness to the consequences of untreated high blood pressure through education and blood pressure screenings. “You do not have to be a health care provider, as training will be provided upon joining,” Parker says. “It’s like peer education. People are more likely to listen to their friends than to a professional that they don’t know.” You can get involved by calling the ambassador hotline at 302-320-5040, or by contacting Angela Parker directly at 302-320-6800. 

Stop by one of the following Wilmington locations to get your free blood pressure screening:

  • Police Athletic League (PAL) of Wilmington | Third Tuesday of the month, 4 p.m.–6 p.m. | 3707 N. Market St., Wilmington
  • North Wilmington Branch Library | First Wednesday of the month, 3 p.m.–5 p.m. | 3400 N. Market St., Wilmington
  • Wilmington Hospital | Every Thursday, 10 a.m.–noon | 501 W. 14th St., Wilmington
  • ShopRite | First Thursday of the month, 3 p.m.–5 p.m. | 501 S. Walnut St., Wilmington
  • Hanover Presbyterian Church | Third Thursday of the month, 6 p.m.–7 p.m. | 1801 N. Jefferson St., Wilmington

Improve your diet 

Eating healthier can do wonders for your heart health. Lowering your salt intake and eating more vegetables is a good way to start, Parker says. 

To jumpstart some healthy-eating habits, visit local farmers’ markets and enjoy a wide selection of fresh produce. Consider trying a two-hour Meatless Makeover vegan cooking demonstration at Drop Squad Kitchen in Wilmington. Visit Living Social for a coupon, call 302-984-2773 for more information or visit www.dropsquadkitchen.com.

Exercise more frequently

YMCA trainers on their new Queenax equipment.

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Experts suggest a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week. Committing to some extra daily walking is an easy way to get started, but if you’re looking for something more, consider joining the YMCA of Delaware, which offers state-of-the-art fitness centers, classes for all skill levels, personal training options and multiple indoor and outdoor pools. The YMCA has six locations across Delaware; to find a location nearest you, visit www.ymcade.org.



Attend free clinics

Bayhealth Medical Center offers free cardiovascular walk-in clinics in Dover, Smyrna and Milford. Patients will receive one-on-one interaction with registered nurses from Bayhealth’s Education Department, who will monitor their blood pressure, heart rate and weight as well as assist with health-related concerns, questions or needs. The program targets men and women over age 50, but anyone can participate. 

Walk-in clinics:

  • Bayhealth Outpatient Center | First Tuesday of each month, 9 a.m.–11 a.m. | 315 North Carter Rd., Smyrna.
  • Bayhealth Wolf Creek | Second Wednesday of each month, 9 a.m.–11 a.m. | 103 Wolf Creek Blvd., Suite 2, Dover.
  • Bayhealth Milford Memorial Outpatient Rehabilitation Center | Third Thursday of each month, 9 a.m.–11 a.m. | 21. W. Clarke Ave., Milford.

Get more sleep

According to a 2011 study by the American Heart Association, poor sleep quality is linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure, a potential cause of heart disease. Most people need six to eight hours of sleep each night, so put away your laptop, shut off the television and get some additional rest.

Stop smoking

Quitting smoking can lower your blood pressure by several points. Call the Delaware Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW for support. Christiana Care also offers a face-to-face smoking cessation program, which entails meeting with a trained counselor three times a month to work toward a tobacco-free life. Call 800-693-2273 for more information.

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Lower your stress levels

Reducing stress in your everyday life can do wonders for your cardiovascular health. Everyone deals with stress differently, so find out what works best for you. Try a yoga class—its mind-body practice is relaxing and anxiety-reducing.

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

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