News • February 27, 2023

How to take care of yourself during Heart Health Month

How to take care of yourself during Heart Health Month

Photo courtesy of

Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2023) – February is Heart Health Month, a time to focus on your overall cardiovascular wellness.

No matter what age we are, we can take preventative measures to ensure our hearts are working to best benefit our bodies every day.

We spoke with Dr. Dominick Sturz, assistant dean of online education for the College of Health Science, and Dr. Heather Ontiveros, department chair of physician assistant studies, about why heart health matters.

Why is it important to maintain a healthy heart?

Sturz: Maintaining a healthy heart is one of the foundational keys to good health. The heart beats several billion times over an average person’s lifespan. Literally, millions of gallons of blood are circulated throughout the body, bringing with it oxygen, nutrients, hormones and more. It is also essential for removing metabolic waste products from our bodies. Even with its propensity to carry out an almost un-ending workload, it can indeed fail without proper care and maintenance. Without good heart health, we risk increased morbidity and early mortality. Functional mobility can be negatively affected by poor heart health, thereby limiting the range of activities that we are able to fully participate in and enjoy. Having a healthy heart is absolutely key to our overall health and well-being.


What are some habits we can incorporate into our daily routines for heart health?

Ontiveros: Eating balanced diets that avoid excess saturated fats, sugar, cholesterol and sodium. The “DASH diet” is good for overall heart health, and it’s important to avoid a sedentary lifestyle. Try to move at least 60 minutes a day with a heart rate over 100 BPM. This can be broken up with mild to moderate intensity.

Sturz: Eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day is an achievable start. Losing weight can also be a powerful driver of heart health. Even small reductions in overall body weight and improved body composition can have huge implications for improved heart health! 


What are some habits we can cut out of our lives to improve our heart health?

Sturz: If you smoke or vape, quit. This is one of the single most powerful things we can do to improve and protect our heart health. Secondly, watch your sodium intake. In the United States, the average child is already consuming twice the recommended intake by the age of 2 to 3 years old. High sodium can lead to hypertension, increasing risk of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. Thirdly, remove all stress from your life. OK, this one is not entirely achievable for most people. However, anybody can learn to improve how they deal with stress. Lowering your stress levels is achievable through increased activity (of almost any kind), meditation, yoga, deep breathing, laughing, journaling and getting enough sleep. Connecting with others is also very helpful in reducing stress.


How does the health of our heart contribute to our overall health and wellness?

Ontiveros: A damaged heart pump can lead to damage of other major body systems if blood supply to those systems is compromised. But a healthy heart can lead to better functioning body systems such as the neurological system, digestive and many others. With a healthy heart your brain can function at a higher level with clearer cognition and active learning, and, in addition to healthier skin and stronger muscles, you’ll have a body that is overall better conditioned and prepared to attack any problem.

Contact CBU Marketing and Communication

Vice President for Marketing and Communication:
Angela Meluski

8432 Magnolia Avenue
Riverside, CA 92504