February is American Heart Month — a time where the nation spotlights heart disease and deficiencies which are common in most Americans. It affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Today, let’s take a deeper look into what is Heart Health Month and why it’s important we’re aware of it.
The number question lies, how do you keep your heart healthy? And how do you know when you’re not doing it?
There are a lot of ways for you to keep your heart healthy — first of all, is keeping an active lifestyle, following a strict diet, and managing your cholesterol and blood pressure. For some, this may sound like an overwhelming task to do, but doing heart-healthy habits is always a commitment.
Today, let’s talk about Heart Health Month Awareness Month and what are the things you can do to not only take care of your heart but as well as to spread awareness of its toll to most Americans.
Why Celebrate Heart Health Awareness Month?
With the growing death rate of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke in America, it’s imperative to have awareness on this matter.
“One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Heart disease costs the United States about $363 billion each year from 2016 to 2017.”– Sep 27, 2021, CDC.gov
Thus, this answers why should we celebrate Heart Month? This is an activity to raise awareness of the importance of having a healthy heart and to encourage healthy habits that help reduce the risk of heart disease.
This movement, activities, and awareness programs — can make a hundred or more positive impact on people who need it.
But not only that this sends awareness to people to get tested or to break unhealthy habits, but this is also to send a message of hope to those who have survived, and to those who are still fighting the disease.
More importantly, this month opens opportunities for advocates and medical experts to talk about the underlying disease and break the stigma.
5 Facts About Heart Disease
What is heart disease anyway? Here are a few facts about Heart Disease and what you should know about it.
Heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease, or coronary artery disease, refers to most conditions caused by atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries. Most frequently, it takes the form of heart attack, stroke, arrhythmia, or heart valve problems.
1. A yearly flu shot can benefit your heart.
For people with heart disease, getting a flu shot shouldn’t be scary — nor an issue. Heart disease can lower your body’s ability to fight the flu and increase your likelihood of developing serious complications such as heart attack, pneumonia, and respiratory failure. This also explains why people with underlying diseases should get a COVID and Flu vaccine.
Getting a yearly flu shot can help prevent complications from the infection and prevent your heart disease symptoms from worsening.
2. Socialize and spend time with friends to lower your risk.
It has been long suggested that regular social interaction plays an essential role in overall health and heart health. One view explaining this effect is that spending time with friends and family can mitigate stress and fend off depression — both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
A few experts also have said that laughing can protect heart health, as it causes blood vessels to relax and expand — again pointing to the health benefits of spending time with close friends.
It’s true when they said, laugh a little more!
3. Many heart attacks occur on Monday mornings.
Make sure your Monday starts right.
Researchers have noticed that there’s a quirk pattern on patients who had heart attacks. Attacks are particularly common during the fall and winter and on Monday mornings.
This is believed to be the case because the body has to work harder to pump blood, which is thicker in the morning. At the same time, in the morning, the body’s stress hormones such as cortisol spike.
Some studies have found that the morning may be the most dangerous time to experience a heart attack, as these heart attacks tend to be more severe.
4. Women under age 50 are more likely than men of the same age to die from a heart attack
Women in their 50s are often said to be more vulnerable to heart attack than men of the same age.
Heart disease is now recognized as a leading cause of death for women. In fact, men are more likely than women to experience a heart attack.
One reason women have lower survival rates may be that many women may not recognize lesser-known heart attack symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and dizziness. Researchers have also found that women may tend to downplay or ignore heart attack symptoms and delay seeking treatment as a result.
Even if you have never experienced any signs of heart disease, it is critical for women to understand their risk and the state of their heart health. For example, two out of every three women who die from heart attacks have never experienced chest pain previous to the heart attack. Coronary calcium scoring is a type of cardiac scan that can detect coronary artery disease in patients who are asymptomatic.
It is also critical to understand the heart attack symptoms that are more common in women than in men—and to not dismiss any symptoms that occur.
5. Deaths from heart disease are dropping
The number of deaths from heart disease has decreased by 60% in the last 40 years. The drop is most likely due to advancements in preventative and treatment strategies.
An example of this would be, fewer people are smoking as a result of increased public knowledge of the detrimental effects of smoking.
Furthermore, more people can regulate their problems such as high blood pressure, and some heart physicians believe we may be able to eliminate heart disease in the future.
However, heart disease remains the top cause of death in the United States today.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Several health issues, as well as your lifestyle, age, and family history, can all increase your risk of heart disease. These are known as risk factors. Almost half of all Americans have at least one of three important risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking — all of which are caused by their lifestyle.
Some risk factors for heart disease, such as age and family history, are uncontrollable. However, you can reduce your risk by modifying the variables under your control.
Behaviors and activities that increase risks:
- Eating a diet high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Not getting enough physical activities
- Excessive use of tobacco
Race and Ethnicity Affects the Risk of Heart Disease
Rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease vary among people of different backgrounds. ]Adults in the United States are more likely than any other reason to die from heart disease, regardless of race or ethnicity.
However, there are certain minority groups, however, are at a higher risk than others. These disparities appear to be due to higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity in specific populations when compared to white Americans.
To read more here are the underlying facts associated with race and ethnicity on heart disease.
How to Reduce Your Risk for Heart Disease
Keeping your heart healthy is always about baby steps — small baby steps that come a long way.
It’s never too late, whether you are in your early 20s or late 40s, it’s time to start breaking unhealthy heart-health habits. Here are some of the healthy heart activities you can start doing.
1. Eat whole foods and limit sugar drinks
Whole food helps in stabilizing your body’s sugar levels, decreasing cholesterol and blood pressure. It is also functionally helpful to your body.
While doing so, make sure to steer clear of fried food, processed food, and most especially sugary drinks such as soda.
2. Reduce stress
The number one leading cause of “ALL DISEASES” is too much stress. When it comes to heart diseases, there is an enormous amount of literature linking psychological stress linked to heart diseases and deficiencies.
It’s important that you keep your heart healthy by making sure that you avoid unnecessary things, people, activities that may cause you stress.
So what do you do about it, when you feel anxious or helpless? First and foremost, you can always call, text, or reach out to someone 24/7 to get immediate mental health support.
3. Incorporate daily walks
Simple easy walks every day can go a long way.
According to the American Heart Association, it can reduce your cholesterol, blood pressure, and energy levels, as well as fight weight gain to improve overall heart health. Walking can also help you relieve stress, clear your thoughts, and improve your mood.
Either you run for an errand, take the dogs to their daily walks, or for a relaxing stroll — go for it!
4. Be physically active
Of course, apart from walking you also have to make sure that you are physically active.
Moving more is one of the best ways to stay healthy, prevent any diseases, and help you age well. If you’re already active, you can increase your intensity for even more benefits. If you’re not yet in the space now to get active, get started by simply sitting less and moving more.
5. Get a consultation
It’s wiser if you seek help from your doctor. Constant checkups and visits to your doctor can help you lower your risk from any diseases, be it heart disease.
In doing so, you also help yourself prepare your actions to keep yourself healthy, active and aging well.
If you need online and virtual consultations regarding your heart health today, you can reach out to me for a telehealth consultation regarding your health if you have more questions.