February is American Heart Month, a month where we bring awareness to heart health. It is celebrated every year to help start the conversation of living with a healthy heart.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the US. Each year it makes up roughly 20% of all US deaths.1 The most common heart diseases in the US include: heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, arrhythmia, and heart valve complications.2 Becoming knowledgeable and aware of heart diseases can help individuals adjust their health and lifestyles to avoid future related heart complications.
There are several different factors that play a role in our heart health, and it is important to be aware of all of them. A few key risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking. There are a few other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that increases people’s risk of heart disease such as: diabetes, overweight, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.1
To ensure your protection from heart disease, it is important to understand the precautions you can take to reduce your risk. There are many factors affecting our heart health and by taking a few precautions you will help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Firstly, avoiding any form of tobacco, including second hand smoke, can decrease the risk of heart disease tremendously. Tobacco holds chemicals that causes damage to the heart and blood vessels.3
Daily physical activity can decrease the risk of heart disease. Aiming to complete 30-60 min of physical activity each day reduces the chances of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.3
Eating healthy can help improve blood pressure and cholesterol as well as reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. A heart healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits, beans or other legumes, lean meats, fish, low-fat dairy foods, whole grains, and healthy fats. It is important to limit the intake of certain things including salt, sugar, processed carbohydrates, alcohol, saturated and trans fats.3
Maintaining a healthy weight is important in decreasing risk of heart disease. Having excess weight increases the risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes all which can increase the chances of developing heart disease.3
It was discovered that people who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, heart attack and depression.3 Making sure you get at least seven hours of sleep each night will help decrease the risk of heart diseases tremendously.
Stress is an easy way to cause complications with your heart health. Stress alone affects your heart, but when you choose unhealthy ways of coping (overeating, drinking or smoking) you put your heart at greater risk. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress is very important like doing physical activity, relaxing, and/or meditating.3
Depending on your health records,if you are at risk you should start screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes as early as 18.3 It is important to talk with your health care provider about your family history and risk factors so that they can determine when and how often you should start screenings.
This month was established by the American Heart Association as American Heart Month. Please visit their website to learn more on heart health, healthy living and how to get involved in their nonprofit.
Starboard Medical wants to put a spotlight on the importance of heart health. We encourage all of you to take measures in keeping a healthy heart.