February is National Heart Month! With 1 in 4 American deaths attributed to heart disease, getting serious about heart health is a pressing community issue. Whether you’re just starting your journey on learning about your heart or you’re well-versed in the subject, here are some top titles to check out.
Heart: A History Sandeep Jauhar
Jauhar (also author of Intern and Doctored) weaves together the story of his own family’s heart issues, his career as a cardiologist, and the history of heart medicine. As he highlights heroes of heart medicine (such as Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, who performed the first open heart surgery), he also takes time to examine the issues that surround heart health, such as poverty and stress. A top pick for anyone looking for an accessible overview.
Another book by a trained cardiologist, this one highlights the careers of the doctors who established the field from its very rudimentary beginnings. Filled with fascinating and often undertold stories, The Heart Healers will deepen anyone’s appreciation for what it takes to save a life.
Hear Your Heart Paul Showers
Written for early readers, this is a great introduction to heart health. It’s never too early to start the conversation with young ones in your life.
The AHA has put out a number of cookbooks filled with easy, delicious, and heart-healthy recipes. The slow cooker recipes are perfect for flavor-filled meals to beat the winter blahs. The pad thai is particularly recommended.
The negative impact stress—both long- and short-term—can have on overall health is well-established. Unfortunately, we still lead stress-filled lives. Greenberg, a practicing psychologist, offers grounded, scientific-based approaches to recognizing and maintaining that stress.
Exercise, exercise, exercise. It’s an answer to most health-related issues, from stress to weight gain to high blood pressure to helping control diabetes (all things that tie into heart health, as well). But for many people, it can be difficult to know how to get up off the couch and begin. These are two low-impact exercise DVDs meant for the beginner.
The Big Book of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids Rob Elliott
You know what they say, laughter is the best medicine. Literally! Studies show that laughing can reduce stress, increase “happiness hormones,” and increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. So break out the knock-knock jokes and bust a gut. It will be good for you.
Heffernan was young (44), a healthy eater and non-smoker who suffered a massive heart attack in her regular yoga class of all places. She survived, but it wasn’t easy. This book traces the years of recovery; the changes in her relationships with her husband, stepchildren, sisters, and strangers; and the struggle to adapt to a body that no longer felt like her own. In the updated version, Heffernan also explores what it’s like to have a heart transplant (hers was in 2006).
Approximately 43 million Americans are “informal caregivers”–that is, they are unpaid and untrained family members or friends who provide care for loved ones after an illness or other health issue. It’s often a time-consuming, emotional, stressful, and, for many, lonely experience. Yonover’s book provides tips from the practical to the emotional, reassuring those reading it that they are not alone.