Tiny Changes to Improve Your Heart Health

It was always at about 5:20am. The early morning summer light would land directly on my face through the open cracks of our cheaply hung blinds, waking me a good hour or more before I would choose to rise. Though I guess I got used to this rhythm, I longed for more sleep.

When we moved into our “new to us” house nearly four years ago, our wallet was so stretched that we changed as little as possible. This summer, we finally chose to do some renovations, and one that seemed a bit extravagant at the time – upgrading the blinds in our bedroom – has been lifechanging.

I tell my children on a daily basis how important sleep is in order to restore our bodies. Getting the recommended 7-8 hours (or in their case, 9-11 hours) heals and repairs your heart and blood vessels, warding off heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases.  

Recently, I saw how other kinds of small changes can improve heart health when I worked with the National Association of Community Health Centers. Through the Million Hearts program, we were able to showcase individuals like Natalia from Kansas City, who learned that by adjusting her diet and monitoring her blood pressure, she could significantly lower her blood pressure.

I was so inspired by the patients that I met. Even under difficult circumstances like a language barrier or low income, by learning tips like reading food labels to adjust salt intake and taking blood pressure readings at home, they were able to have great success improving their health in a short period of time.

The CDC predicts that by 2022, 16 million heart attacks, strokes and related heart-threatening events could occur, and yet 80% of premature heart disease and strokes are preventable. This month, the CDC is promoting ways to take control of your heart health with these videos and this guide.

Maybe it’s because I celebrate the Jewish New Year or because my kids each just started at a brand new school, but September always makes me feel like it's a time for change and new beginnings. Being able to now sleep until at least 6:45am is one change that feels amazing. I hope whatever small change you might make this fall, it's one that improves your overall health as well.