February is National Heart Month, but don’t be confused by its name– it has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.
Heart Month is the ideal time to promote heart health and learn the facts about the number one cause of death for people in the United States: heart disease.
Twenty-five percent of all deaths among men and women are caused by heart disease. Every 37 seconds, cardiovascular disease claims the life of someone else in the U.S.– that’s more lives than the combination of cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and accidents!
A Delicate Organ
The heart is special. On average, this muscular organ is the size of a fist, weighs roughly one pound, beats 115,000 times a day, and pumps more than 2,000 gallons of blood a day. It is responsible for sending blood around your body, providing your body with the oxygen, nutrients, and hormone cells it needs. It also is responsible for the removal of metabolic wastes like carbon dioxide and nitrogenous wastes. To say the heart is pretty important would be an understatement.
You Could Be at Risk
Yet, amidst how necessary the heart is for our bodies to function, so many people abuse it by not properly caring for it. On average, Americans have hearts that are seven years older than what they should be.
Those most at risk for heart disease are people with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, those who smoke, those who are obese, people who have diabetes, people who have limited physical activity, and those who have poor eating habits. This affects more people than you might think. In fact, half of all Americans have either high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or smoke.
Take Control of Your Heart
Fortunately, cardiovascular disease is preventable (for the most part) when people make healthy choices and manage their health well. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests the following ways to improve your heart health:
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.
Manage Your Health Conditions
If you have conditions that put you at risk for heart disease (such as high blood pressure and cholesterol), talk with your doctor to help you manage it. You may need to take some medications to assist you.
Eat a Heart-healthy Diet
Eat food low in trans-fat, saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium. Try to fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits, and strive to eat food low in sodium. Replace salt with spices and other seasonings and opt for reduced sodium products at the grocery store.
Increase Physical Activity
Unfortunately, about 40% of Americans don’t get enough physical activity that meets the CDC’s guidelines. Being physically inactive at the lowest level puts you at higher heart risk than smoking. You should aim to get moving for at least 150 minutes per week, which can also be broken up into 10, 20, or 30-minute blocks.
Sitting for too long is also an independent risk factor for heart disease. Even if you exercise regularly, it’s still wise to decrease your sitting time throughout the day.
While it may sound silly (go ahead and laugh), laughter is actually really good for your heart. It reduces stress and gives a boost to your immune system. Happy people have a lower risk of developing heart disease. One study conducted in 2010 found that happiest people were 22% less likely to develop heart disease over the 10 years of follow-up than people in the ‘negative-positive’ emotion scale.
Seniors are at an even greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, the majority of deaths from heart disease occur with people who are over the age of 65. Know the facts and help lower your risk by following the tips above. If you have any questions, contact us at PrimRose Care.