February is, by declaration of the President, American Heart Month, and tomorrow is the holiday of love Valentine’s Day. If I asked you to visualize the connection between these two February events you would almost certainly picture the iconic red heart symbol first. Even the American Heart Association uses the familiar shape in its logo that, it turns out, is thousands of years old.
So the “heart” represents both health and love, and this month is the perfect time to commit to doing what is necessary to preserve both—and commit is the key word. Neither health nor love can be adequately “nourished” in a single day’s or a single month’s observance. Commit is a word that says “long term”, and while I’ll pass on dishing out advice for lovers I will offer a word or two about health.
Cardiovascular (heart) disease is the number one killer of Americans, and the number one killer of people with diabetes. Having diabetes, in fact, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Some say that having diabetes is equivalent to having already suffered one heart attack. That’s why the “ABC’s” of diabetes control involves not only blood sugar control (A1C), but also other cardiovascular risk factors—Blood Pressure and Cholesterol. The connection between diabetes and heart disease is strong, but the good news is that we can be stronger.
Both diabetes self-management and living “heart healthy” depend upon lifestyle commitments we can freely make, and we all know what those are—diet, exercise, regular physician care, no smoking, alcohol in moderation, adequate sleep, and managing stress to name a few. It isn’t always easy, but the opportunity to impact our own long term health for the better is there for us to seize.
When it comes to love the fate of our “heart” isn’t always in our own hands, but when it comes to health we can be our own best Valentine for years and years to come.