February is here, and though that might initially have you thinking of heart-shaped boxes and red roses, think again. It’s also Heart Disease Awareness Month, and the American Heart Association wants you to get involved.

From high cholesterol and high blood pressure, to congestive heart failure and certain arrhythmia conditions, heart health touches all of our lives. The American Heart Association sponsors countless causes and events to raise awareness and fund research for heart conditions, but you can get involved in so many ways.

Start by having a screening for yourself or a loved one (or both!), since prevention is key to so many heart conditions like high blood pressure or cholesterol. Learning about nutrition, starting a healthy exercise program, reducing your stress levels, and getting more rest are small steps you can take to help ensure heart health in your life and in the lives of your loved ones. Look for upcoming walks/runs and other community events to raise funds for heart disease awareness (you can search for events and local AHA offices by zipcode here). Encourage others to have screenings, or get together a “team” in honor of a loved one who is living with a heart condition, or in memory of someone who lost their life to a heart condition. Educate yourself and those around you on the warning signs of events like heart attack and stroke.

So celebrate your life and the lives of those around you – and get involved in reaching your community to help boost the heart health and wellness of those around you. To donate or volunteer, or to get more ideas for involvement and learn more about all the ways you can show your heart a little love, visit www.heart.org. And as always, you can schedule check-ups and heart health screenings through Valley Healthcare System by calling our main line at 706-322-9599. Here’s to your heart!