SAN DIEGO: Show your heart some love this Heart Health Month. A human heart requires nurturing, attention and care if it is to be healthy and fully functioning.
MASS MURDERER: HEART DISEASE
Americans are often prone to downplaying their own heart health risks. Yet according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, heart disease accounts for one out of every four deaths in the United States.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has reacted to the increasing risk of heart disease through the establishment of their Million Hearts initiative.
MONITOR BLOOD PRESSURE
It is estimated that 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure. People with high blood pressure, the CDC explains, are 3 times more likely to die from heart disease than those with normal blood pressure.
The CDC has been examining the signs and symptoms that signal the underlying causes of high blood pressure due to their belief that it is a major cause of heart disease. Determined to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017, they have also begun an educational program with a focus on lowering blood pressure.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
Part of the U.S. Department of Health, and Human Services (HHS), the Office of Disease Prevention offers these suggestions that can help you and your family live a heart-healthy lifestyle:
- Eliminate salt in the diet by using salt substitutes such as spices
- Encourage physical activity at home and during school’
- Keep weight at a normal level
- Control cholesterol and blood pressure
- Consume alcohol in moderation
- Maintain a heart-healthy diet
Consuming foods that are low in fat and cholesterol, while focusing on consuming fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains could go a long way toward reducing an individual’s blood pressure and maintaining a healthy heart.
HEART HEALTH TIPS
Smoking cessation is another key factor in maintaining an individual’s heart health. Even for long-time smokers, cutting out tobacco consumption has been clearly demonstrated to reduce the risk of heart disease as well as the risk for heart attacks.
In addition, monitoring blood pressure routinely throughout the year while under the supervision of a healthcare professional is extremely important in maintaining heart health. Normally, your family doctor or cardiologist will begin by establishing a baseline blood pressure reading.
From that point, your physician will follow up with periodic monitoring, to measure the effects of any progress you’ve made by adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle.
On the downside, there are very real and personal costs for refusing to pay attention to heart health. Individuals that ignore heart health will almost certainly undermine their chances to enjoy long-term health and a better quality of life.
HEART ATTACK WARNING SIGNS
“A heart attack feels like a hand squeezing your heart….it’s like the worst Charley Horse you can imagine-in your heart,” lamented a long-term smoker named Roosevelt in an article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The American Heart Association offers warning signs for the onset of a heart attack. Anyone experiencing these signs should seek medical attention immediately. Key signs:
- Discomfort in the area of the heart or other areas of the upper body
- Shortness of breath
- Other signs, such as nausea and sweating
It is important to note that any warning sign or combination thereof could last just a few minutes before disappearing. Warning signs can also come and go or could manifest as pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
Oftentimes, heart attack symptoms experienced by women can be quite different than those experienced by men.
Overall, however, the best way to maintain heart health is to be proactive and to practice consistent and positive prevention measures.
Whether on Valentine’s Day or beyond, keeping heart health always in mind is the best way to boost the odds that any heart that might get broken will not turn out to be your own.
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!