February: we know you’re a love-filled month -- with all of your delicious chocolate and sweet, sappy Valentine’s Day cards that make us feel all warm and toasty.
But, did you know that February is also Heart Health Month?
And we’re not talking about the chocolate or candy heart(s) here either.
We’re talking your real-deal heart that is pumping and life-giving.
This month, we get a chance to help shine a light on ways you can support a happy and healthy heart.
So, get comfortable and let’s dive in…
Healthy Heart Living
Ready for the not-so-fun news?
For both men and women in the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death.
There’s good news though: heart disease is also one of the most preventable.
Heart disease can come in many forms ranging anywhere from arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) to atherosclerosis (plaque build-up). Working with your doctor to identify heart issues is crucial to your health.
Knowing the risk factors for heart disease, as well as your family health history and making choices that help support a healthy lifestyle will be vital to your heart health journey.
Healthy Heart Living Tips:
- Partake in exercise (3-5 times a week) for 20-30 minutes.
- Embrace food that is high in unsaturated fats like fish and avocado and is low in salt and transfats.
- Control your sugar levels, especially if you have diabetes. Having diabetes can contribute to developing a heart disease (even if your glucose levels are controlled).
- Maintain a healthy weight: surplus weight can add strain to the heart and increase the risk of stroke and other heart diseases.
- Dump the cigarettes for good. Smokers have twice the chance of suffering from a heart attack versus non-smokers. Not to mention the increased risk of stroke.
- Know your family history: if a parent or sibling has heart disease (especially at a young age) this may increase your risk.
- Keep your cholesterol in check. If you have other risk factors (family history for example), you may have a greater risk of coronary heart disease all due to high cholesterol.
- Support a healthy blood pressure.
- Limit alcohol consumption – for women: ½ - 1 drink per day, for men: 1-2 drinks per day. This can help reduce the risk of stroke, as well as lessen effects on blood pressure and/or cholesterol.
- Terminate any drug abuse; especially the use of amphetamines and cocaine. Heart disease, stroke and lung failure can all be tied to heroin, opiates, cocaine and amphetamines.
- Identify stressors and any triggers for depression and/or anger. Controlling these emotions will add to your overall heart health and decrease your risk for heart disease.
Women & The Heart
Heart disease may be the number one cause of death for both men and women, but women tend to have particular risks, in addition to signs and symptoms that differ from men.
Here are some of the increased risks for heart disease in women:
- Smoking and taking an oral contraceptive pill.
- High blood pressure (especially pregnant women).
- Approaching and eventually, menopause.
- Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain in the center of your chest. It lasts more than a few minutes, or goes away and comes back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
- As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
- If you're not working with a physician, please get in touch with one. (If local, you can call Dr. Elijah at Southern Colorado Clinic to get started: 719.553.2201).
- Integrate the Healthy Heart Living Tips (above) into your lifestyle.
- Look into supplementing with a reputable Omega 3 supplement like BioTE® for heart health support. (We carry this supplement at our Southern Colorado Clinic office!)
And don't forget the chocolate and sappy love cards for your loved one(s) this month!