Your heart loves you. Love it back!
February is National Heart Month and it is a perfect time to focus on heart health. Despite the fact that we are bombarded by data and statistics every day, there are a few numbers from the American Heart Association that we all need to know:
- Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
- 1 in every 3 deaths is from heart disease or stroke: 2,200 deaths per day
- About 92.1 million adult Americans are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke
Even though these statistics are frightening, we don’t have to be one of the victims. The American Heart Association offers seven simple things you can do to reduce your risk:
- If you smoke, get help to quit. Even exposure to second-hand smoke can be potentially harmful.
- Get up and get moving. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes daily. You don’t have to do high intensity aerobics to reap the benefits of movement.
- Make those daily calories heart-friendly choices like fruits and vegetables, foods lower in saturated and trans fats and whole grains/high fiber. Reduce sweets and drinks with sugar. Watch the portion size; especially when eating out. Use moderation in lifestyle choices.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is known as the “silent” killer; often going without symptoms. Sodium (salt) and its disguised friends can have a direct impact on your blood pressure readings. Salt is in everything we eat so be sodium aware. Cured and processed meats like cold cuts are high in sodium. Cheese can also contain a fair amount of salt. Read labels.
- Be aware what causes “stress” in your life. Daily life adventures can cause you to feel more anxious, even angry. It may not be practical to rid yourself of stressors completely but how you react to those situations can make a huge difference to your body.
- Know what YOUR risk factors might be. Aging can increase the risks. Cholesterol (blood lipids) and diabetes can be managed. Know your genetic make-up and the history of the family tree.
- Take the responsibility for your health. You can have a significantly positive impact on what a “healthy YOU” looks like. Be informed, be pro-active, ask your healthcare provider how you can participate in improving and maintaining your personal health. It is never too late to make a difference in your life and for those that love you.
Experts recommend that if you don’t know how to do CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), learn it. You could save a life. Always remember, you have one heart. It is a magnificent organ that works 24/7. Your heart loves you. Love it back!
For more information about heart health, visit the American Heart Association online at heart.org.
This article was written by Community HealthCare System’s Education Coordinator Nancy Willert, BSN, RN.