February is American Heart Month and we’re joining the effort to raise awareness about America’s number one killer: heart disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to 600,000 people die each year from heart disease and 715,000 from heart attacks. With numbers like those, many of us know several people who have been affected by this disease, but the good news is that it can be prevented and controlled. With advances in nutritional knowledge and medical technology, we can work together to help reduce these numbers and keep our loved ones around for many more years to come.
What is Heart Disease?
The first tool in combatting any health issue is understanding how it affects your body. The two major types of heart disease are coronary and cardiovascular, which includes stroke. Both forms of this disease can cause heart attacks, heart failure, and angina.
What Causes Heart Disease?
One of the main symptoms of heart disease is artery blockage, which begins when the artery layers become damaged. Some of the ways this can happen includes smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high amounts of sugar as in diabetes, and blood vessel inflammation. Over time and with continued damage, plaque will build in the arteries and can harden, causing blood clots or even a heart attack.
How to Protect Yourself
-We all struggle with making healthy decisions every day, but even small steps can make a big difference in the long run. Having a healthy heart will help you live a longer, more fulfilled life without the complications of high medical bills during your golden years.
-One of the best ways to prevent heart disease is to maintain a healthy diet. Remember, everything in moderation. As long as you’re getting plenty of veggies and fruit in your diet and avoiding saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol, the occasional splurge shouldn’t be a problem. Of course, don’t diverge from your doctor’s orders!
-Another way to prevent heart disease is by getting regular physical exercise, which, when combined with a healthy diet, will also help you stay at a healthy weight. To find out what your ideal weight is, consult your physician. According to the Surgeon General, you should be getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity on a daily basis. If you can’t remember the last time you broke a sweat, try hard to make physical activity a part of your day!
-Don’t smoke or drink too much alcohol.
-Visit your doctor regularly. If you catch symptoms of heart disease early on, you can prevent it from getting worse and work to solve the issues. Stay up to date on your cholesterol count and blood pressure and take any prescribed medicine.
It’s amazing just how much every decision you make impacts your health. To some, it can seem like a burden. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to live your life to the fullest each and every day. February is the month dedicated to heart health, but every month should be all about the heart.