VDH kicks off American Heart Month with heart health-promoting activities

The activities are open to all Virginians while supplies last

(Jeff Williamson, WSLS 10)

February is American Heart Month, and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) is kicking things off with a few free heart health-promoting events and activities.

VDH partnered with the Arthritis Foundation to offer Walk with Ease (WWE), a six-week program that provides activities and resources for those interested.

The program is open to all Virginians and runs from Wednesday, Feb. 1 through Monday, March 6. VDH officials said an e-book and resources are free and available while supplies last.

“Adding physical activity into our daily lives is one of the most important steps we can take to keep the heart healthy,” said Patrick Wiggins, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention supervisor, Division of Prevention and Health Promotion. “WWE participants will receive tools and an e-Book through the online portal that will provide instruction on how to exercise in ways that are safe and comfortable, whether participating as an individual or as part of a group.”

Community organizations are also being trained to offer the CDC Heart Healthy Ambassador Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring program.

VDH said the program teaches participants how to monitor their blood pressure and achieve healthy lifestyle changes.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of death in the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Margaret Kadree, clinical specialist, Division of Prevention and Health Promotion. In 2019, heart disease became the number one leading cause of death in Virginia. “Preliminary analysis shows that heart disease will continue to be the leading cause of death for Virginians in 2022. "

To reduce the risk of disease, VDH recommends the following:

  • Choose healthy meals and snacks. Incorporate a lot of fruit and vegetables in your diet and choose foods lower in sodium and saturated fat. Discover some heart-healthy recipes and check out the MyPlate resources from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Make physical activity a regular part of your day. It is recommended that adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking, running, bicycling. Learn more about ways to increase your physical activity throughout the day here.
  • Take steps to quit smoking by contacting Quit Now Virginia, which offers free telephone or web-based counseling services and also offers Text2Quit support, self-help materials, and referrals to local resources. 1-800-QUIT NOW (1-800-784-8669) or learn more at the Quit Now Virginia Website.
  • Monitor your blood pressure. Read more about ways to prevent and manage blood pressure. Here are some helpful tips for talking with a doctor to manage and monitor your blood pressure.

To learn more about heart disease, visit the VDH website.

About the Author:

Lauren Helkowski joined WSLS 10’s digital team in August 2022, but has held a passion for storytelling long before.