February is American Heart Month! Did you know heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming nearly 1 in 3 deaths? Taking care of your heart health is important, and we here at All American Healthcare want to help you find your path to great health. – All American Healthcare Hammond
Taking control of your heart health can look different for everyone. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, and there is no one path to optimal heart health. Use these tips to learn how to take control of these 5 heart disease risks, so you can start taking care of your heart and make lasting changes in your life today!
- The heart is a muscle, about the same size as an adult fist, that pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
- Blood circulates throughout your body in a cycle. The heart pumps blood to the lungs to gain oxygen before it travels back to the heart. From there, the hearts pumps blood through the arteries to other organs in the body. Blood then travels through your veins back to the heart.
- A heart attack occurs when the heart muscle does not have enough oxygen-rich blood flow, and signs of a heart attack can vary. Learn more about heart disease and coronary heart disease here.
Your Heart Health
Your heart’s health can be determined by a multitude of factors including your age, lifestyle, diet, gender and more. Making small lifestyle changes can lead to long-term heart-health benefits. Use these tips to build healthy habits in your life that will last a lifetime.
Know Your Risk Factors
There are a multitude of risk factors for heart disease. According to the CDC, nearly 49 precent of Americans have at least one risk factor including:
1. High blood pressure (hypertension)
2. High cholesterol ( HDL, LDL levels)
5. physical inactivity
1. Check Your Blood Pressure.
- Undetected blood pressure can lead to a multitude of health problems including stroke and heart disease.
- In addition to age, heredity, gender, weight and ethnicity can increase your risk for high blood pressure.
- The easiest way to keep track of your blood pressure is to test it yourself using a blood pressure monitor.
- Understand how to measure your blood pressure.
2. What is Cholesterol?
- Cholesterol is naturally produced in the body and is essential for cell fluidity and structure.
- Cholesterol is carried throughout the body by a lipoprotein.
- The two most important kind of lipoproteins are LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and HDL (High Density Lipoprotein).
- Heart disease is not determined by the amount of cholesterol in your body but rather determined by the lipoproteins carrying the cholesterol.
- An imbalance of HDL and LDL can indicate a risk for heart disease.
- A buildup of LDL can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries or a potential rupture in the artery wall causing a blood clot.
3. Quit Bad Habits.
- Start quitting bad habits such as smoking or over indulging. Smoking can dramatically raise your risk of heart attacks or coronary heart disease.
- Smoking is one of the leading factors for coronary heart disease.
- Smoking causes a build up of plaque in the arteries which can eventually lead to a hardening of the arteries.
- Smoking additionally damages other organs, reduces the amount of good cholesterol in the body, and raises blood pressure.
4. Understand Diet and Nutrition.
- Your diet and nutrition also play a major role in your risk for heart disease.
- If heart disease runs in your family, a healthy diet can help reduce your risk.
- Tomatoes, salmon, blueberries and dark chocolate are among the many heart-healthy foods that can lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, and promote cardiovascular health.
- Avoid foods overloaded with high amounts of sugar and salt.
- Also avoid foods with high calories or those with partially hydrogenated oils.
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamins and nutrients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, oats, proteins and healthy fats.
- Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease.
- Regular checkups, a healthy diet, and exercise can help you manage and limit the effects of diabetes, and reduce your risk of heart disease.
5. Exercise and Weight Loss Management.
- Experts recommend 30-60 minutes of exercise at least 3 times a week.
- Exercise gets your heart pumping and your oxygen flowing throughout the body.
- Maintaining a healthy weight can also help lower blood pressure.
- Exercise does not have to be intense. Make small changes at a time like choosing to take the stairs at work or walking to lunch rather than drive.
- Don’t look at exercise as a bad chore; rather, look at it as a way to de-stress and increase endorphins in your body!