How are you feeling? How is your heart doing? Do you know? February is American Heart Month. This means if you are not taking good care of your heart, this might just be the perfect opportunity to put your heart front and center. There are more than enough educational programs available this month to help everyone improve their cardiovascular health. We all have choices; we can remain the same or make the needed changes for the betterment of our overall health; inclusive of our heart. What will you do?
Heart Disease is an idiom used to mean heart conditions and it is the leading cause of death in adults of both sexes in the United States. As much as 90 percent of adults 50+ and more than 75 percent of young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Those figures are alarming but don't have to be. The common forms of heart disease are coronary artery disease (CAD), high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight or obese, and being a drinker and/or smoker. Having more than one of these risk factors increases the risk of heart disease tenfold. The older one is, say 65+ the more likely they are if they have heart disease to endure a heart attack, a stroke, or heart failure.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease is the most common form of heart disease, it occurs when the major blood vessels that supply the heart blood become weak and damaged. Cholesterol-containing deposits or atherosclerosis are typically the reason for coronary artery disease. The coronary arteries supply blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your heart. A buildup of plaque narrows these arteries, decreasing blood flow to the heart. Ultimately, the reduced blood flow can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, or other coronary artery disease signs and symptoms. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack and eventually heart failure.
Over 16 million Americans have coronary artery disease, some don’t even know they have it. CAD kills more American adults than any other disease in the country; accounting for 1 out of every 4 deaths each year. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from this disease.
What can be done?
To prevent or manage heart disease make sure to:
· Know your numbers, so you know where you stand
o When is the last time you’ve been to the Doctor? Did you get your numbers? Do you understand what they mean? If you’ve not been recently, on your next visit ask to obtain your glucose, blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, BMI, waist circumference numbers and asked that they are explained to you. There are telltale signs of how you may be functioning by knowing these numbers. Perhaps you can make taking your own blood pressure apart of your selfcare routine or a healthy habit and at minimum to check your blood pressure every other day to know where you stand. When starting out, do so once in the morning and once in the evening on that same day of choice. Blood pressure does fluctuate throughout the day so monitoring for a week or two may provide lots of insights to you. Purchase a scale and weigh in once a week. These are ways to monitor your own health.
· Participate in Physical Activity and/or Exercise
o Adding some form of movement to your life more times than not can be beneficial in avoiding a heart attack or stroke. Make sure to get in 2.5 hours to 3 hours of some type of heart moving work every week. Dancing, mowing the lawn and gardening counts. HITT, walking, jogging, swimming, etc. are great too.
· Clean up the Diet
o Committing to adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is not an option, it is a must. It is imperative to eat nutrient dense foods rather than fast foods. If you must have fast food at a meal, try your hardest to indulge in a salad or some greens prior to or after consumption.
· Stop Smoking
o Don’t smoke and avoid being a secondhand smoker. This tip is super simple and easy to adhere to. Smoking not only destroys the hearth, it destroys the lungs among other things too. Smoking will not only destroy your health but those around you that are inhaling what you are putting in the atmosphere making their risk for various disease greater but so unnecessary.
· Halt Excessive Drinking
o Just like smoking, to improve one’s heart health, cutting the relationship with the bottle or at least limit the intake of such poison into the body is advantageous. There is no benefit to drinking alcohol; it is quite dehydrating and draining making it hard to stay focus. There are healthier ways to escape that won’t hurt the body, especially the heart. Over time, excessive alcohol intake may destroy overall health inclusive of the liver, brain, breast, digestion and maybe even relationships.
· Limit Stress & Learn how to Cope with stress
o Stress is inevitable and cause the blood pressure to rise, however, having an outlet to release the strain from stress may be helpful.
§ exercising, meditation, journaling, praying, talking it out, are clear-cut ways to discharge the feelings of stress from the body.
· Keep Weight in Check
o Hovering at the overweight, obese, or extreme obese mark may cause all types of health problems, however, if a decision is made to lose some weight it will take some of the work off the heart and have it functioning properly.
In conclusion, heart disease is no joke, on the contrary, it is a serious illness that must be addressed because it kills far too many Americans each year, causing quite alarming statistics. Knowing your health numbers can help everyone understand where they are on the health continuum and what must be done if they would like to remain on earth for an extended amount of time. Making significant lifestyle changes to maintain or improve one’s health is a must. Being cognizant of where one stands regarding, how healthy they are is imperative in knowing how to maneuver through life each day. Now may be the right time to be more conscious and mindful about taking care of yourself by moving your body more and making healthier choices.
What will you begin to do to take better care of your heart?
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