With Valentines Day quickly approaching, let’s talk a little about heart health. Yes, the infamous topic…your heart? Have you been taking care of it like you should be? I am not referring to your feelings, but your physical, biological heart.
In grade school, do you remember learning about how the heart is the power pump of the body? It is literally just that; your heart pumps all of your blood supply and is one of the most important organs in the body.
When we reach a point of decreased heart function, one of the results is that our heart does not pump the way that it should. This decreased function causes many cardiovascular-related diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both women and men, and coronary disease is the most common type of heart disease.
Some of the main risk factors for heart disease as highlighted by the National Institutes of Health are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, pre-diabetes, and obesity. Fortunately, there is a way to stray away from these risks and maintain a healthy heart. Below are some changes to ensure that you are caring for yourself. These recommendations are based on the lifestyle changes for heart attack prevention released by the American Heart Association.
- Keep The Pressure Off High blood pressure also called hypertension can cause wear and tear of the delicate inner lining of your blood vessels. Maintain a lower blood pressure by having a healthy diet, keeping weight off your waistline, and by reducing your sodium intake.
- Aim For A Healthy Weight Obesity places you at risk for high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and type II diabetes, all major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases.
- Move More The U.S Department of Health and Human Services advises that adults do one of the following for substantial health benefits. A) 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity like brisk walking, B) 75 minutes each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity like running or C) An equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Furthermore, the department recommends two days a week of strength training that is of moderate or high intensity and involves all major muscle groups.
- Heart Healthy Nutrition It is best to consume a diet that emphasizes the intake of vegetables, whole grains, fruits, low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, legumes, non-tropical vegetable oils, and nuts. It is advised to limit the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, sodium, sweets, and red meat.
- Give Up Smoking Smoking damages the lining of your arteries, leading to the build-up of fatty material, which narrows the artery. Stop smoking and reduce second-hand smoking as best as you can.
There you are, five ways to improve your heart health in this month of love!
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“Lifestyle Changes For Heart Attack Prevention.” Accessed January 28, 2018. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/LifeAfteraHeartAttack/Lifestyle-Changes-for-Heart-Attack-Prevention_UCM_303934_Article.jsp#.Wm4nkiOZOgS.
“What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?, HHS, NIH, NHLBI.” National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Accessed January 28, 2018. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/hearttruth/lower-risk/risk-factors.htm.
Sweet Life Wellness Intern
University of Maryland 17′