Posts tagged with "heart month"

Give Your Heart Some Love

Your heart spreads love to the people around you. But you may forget how important it is to take care of it and keep it healthy. If we’ve developed unhealthy habits, our heart could suffer the consequences – congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and even cardiac arrest!  So, have you been giving your heart enough love lately? If not, it’s time to start!

Time to Make a Change

February is American Heart Month. Do you know what that means? It’s the perfect time to start taking care of your heart! But don’t feel like you need to make the changes happen all at once. Instead, tiny steps create small wins to reach a larger goal. No matter what you do – move more or eat better – you can work toward a healthy heart. Here are a few ways to start down the path to a healthier you.

What’s Up, Doc?

We often don’t believe heart disease will affect us or those we love, but it can. Each year, 1 in 4 people die of heart disease, but it doesn’t have to be you. Before you begin your wellness journey, you need to know your numbers. Knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels is beneficial to give you a goal to aim for. Here are the target numbers:

Blood Pressure:

  • Systolic (top number) – no higher than 120
  • Diastolic (bottom number) – no higher than 80

Cholesterol:

  • LDL should be less than 100 mg/dL
  • HDL should be 60 ml/dL or higher
  • Total cholesterol should be less than 200

Exercise is the Best Medicine

Are you getting enough physical activity each week? Being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle will put a large strain on your heart. Exercise is a great way to keep your heart in good shape and maintain a healthy weight! Add a few minutes of physical activity into your schedule each day until you get at least 150 minutes a week of exercise. That’s only 20 minutes a day! Losing just 5% of your body weight dramatically lowers your risk of stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. For a 200-pound person, that’s only 10 pounds. You can do that!

Eat Healthy to Your Heart’s Content

Along with physical activity, it is important to eat healthier to reduce your risk of heart disease. Avoid a diet high in sodium, saturated fats, and sugar. Try to incorporate veggies, fruits, whole grains, fish, vegetable oils, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products. When you combine eating better and exercising, you’ll lower your body weight and your risk for chronic disease.

For instance, if you want to have a snack, make it heart-healthy! Try swapping an unhealthy snack for a more nutritious one. Instead of a candy bar, try an apple. Instead of potato chips, how about some carrots with hummus? And remember to take portioned snacks with you to eat throughout the day to avoid overeating.

Ready, Get Set, Quit!

Did you know the chemicals in tobacco can damage your heart and blood vessels? If you smoke, motivate yourself by setting a day to quit. It could save your life! No one else can take action to quit but you. If you need assistance in quitting, talk to your doctor. He or she may prescribe NRT (nicotine replacement therapy) aids to help curb the cravings.

Count Your Z’s

Quality sleep is vital for keeping your body healthy. It’s true! Getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night boosts your immune system, manages your hunger levels, improves memory, and reduces your chances of developing heart disease. Need some help falling asleep? Practice ways to relax before you go to bed. Turn off the TV, put down the phone, listen to soothing music, or meditate –this can help you fall asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.

You’re Not Alone

It’s hard to continue your way to wellness when you lack the motivation or you feel alone. Having support from friends and family is important to help you achieve your goals.

Here are a few examples to maintain a high level of motivation while encouraging the people around you to love their hearts too:

  • Spread the love – Spend good quality time with your significant other, children, friends, family, or coworkers by planning a fun date together. Get active or cook a wholesome meal!
  • Step your way to a healthier heart – Create a step contest with your friends or coworkers. See who can get the most steps each month. Make it extra fun by awarding prizes to those who excel!
  • Set up an online support group – You’re not alone in this journey to a healthier heart. Make sure you let others know they have your support. All of you will become inspired by each other’s stories.
  • Spread awareness – Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Raise awareness this month by actively talking about heart health and ways to keep the people around you healthy.
  • Make a contract – Choose several family members who want to lose weight and make a contract to be healthier with them. Provide support and encouragement so you can love your hearts together!

Raising Awareness for Women

While heart disease is the No. 1 killer of both genders, it is important to spread awareness for women as they often do not experience the same symptoms as men. On February 7th, in support of women’s heart health, wear red to raise awareness. Your involvement could help decrease the incidences of heart disease and stroke! Check out this video, Watch Me Go Red, from the American Heart Association.


This blog was written by Miranda Smudzinski, USPM Health & Wellness Content Contributor


References:
https://newsroom.heart.org/events/february-2020-american-heart-month-and-go-red-for-women
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/taking-care-hearts-together
https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/25-ways-take-part-heart-month

Keep Your Heart Healthy from Heart Disease

Keep Your Heart Healthy from Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for people to make healthier choices.

You can make healthy changes to lower your risk of developing heart disease. Controlling and preventing risk factors is also important for people who already have heart disease.

To lower your risk:

  • Monitor and control your weight.
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get active and eat healthy.

 Am I at risk for heart disease? 

You are at higher risk for heart disease if:

  • You are a woman over age 55
  • You are a man over age 45
  • Your father or brother had heart disease before age 55
  • Your mother or sister had heart disease before age 65

As you get older, your risk for heart disease and heart attack increases. But the good news is that heart disease can be prevented.

 What is heart disease? 

When people talk about heart disease, they are usually talking about coronary heart disease (CHD). It’s also called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most common type of heart disease.

When someone has CHD, the coronary arteries (tubes) that take blood to the heart are narrow or blocked. This happens when cholesterol and fatty material, called plaque, build up inside the arteries.

Plaque is caused by: 

  • Fat and cholesterol in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Too much sugar in the blood (usually because of diabetes)

When plaque blocks an artery, it’s hard for blood to flow to the heart. A blocked artery can cause chest pain or a heart attack.

What is a heart attack? 

A heart attack happens when blood flow to the heart is suddenly blocked. Part of the heart may die if the person doesn’t get help quickly.

Common signs of a heart attack include: 

  • Chest pain (or feeling pressure, squeezing, or fullness in your chest)
  • Pain or discomfort in the upper body – like the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach (above the belly button)
  • Trouble breathing (while resting or being active)
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up
  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or unusually tired
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat

Not everyone who has a heart attack will have all the signs. Don’t ignore changes in how you feel. Signs of a heart attack often come on suddenly. But sometimes, they develop slowly – hours, days, or even weeks before a heart attack happens.

Talk to your doctor if you feel tired for several days, or if other health problems (like pain or trouble breathing) bother you more than usual. Call 911 right away if you or someone else has signs of a heart attack. Don’t ignore any signs or feel embarrassed to call for help. Acting fast can save a life. Call 911 even if you are not sure it’s a heart attack.

 Keep Your Heart Healthy

Take steps today to lower your risk of heart disease and heart attack. Follow the tips below to help prevent heart disease.

  1. Eat healthy and get active.
  2. Monitor and control your weight.
  3. Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.
  4. Control your cholesterol and blood pressure.
  5. If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  6. Talk with your doctor or nurse about steps you can take to prevent type 2 diabetes.
  7. Manage your stress.

When it comes to your heart, what you eat matters. Follow these tips for heart-healthy eating.

  1. Eat less saturated and trans fat. Stay away from fatty meats, fried foods, cakes, and cookies.
  2. Cut down on sodium (salt). Look for the low-sodium or “no salt added” types of canned soups, vegetables, snack foods, and lunch meats.
  3. Get more fiber. Fiber is in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. To save money, buy vegetables and fruits that are in season, frozen, or canned.
  4. Look for fat-free or low-fat milk products. Or choose soy products with added calcium.
  5. For breads, cereals and grains with more than one ingredient, make sure whole wheat or another whole grain is listed first.
  6. Choose lean cuts of meat and other foods with protein.

References

1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/heart-healthy-foods-shopping-list

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: http://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/keep-your-heart-healthy

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