It’s February, the perfect time for Heart Health Awareness! Heart Disease is the number one cause of death in the United States, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. Someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds, and every 60 seconds someone in the U.S. dies from a heart related event. Taking care of your heart should be a priority, and being educated on facts and prevention can help you to avoid a life threatening event.
Heart Disease is a common term for the buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) in the arteries. Plaque grows within the walls of the coronary arteries until blood flow to the heart’s muscles is limited- this is called ischemia. This can cause heart failure, heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, sudden cardiac arrest and peripheral artery disease. If you begin to feel chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, cold sweats, palpitations, nausea or pain in your upper body (arms, back, neck, jaw, stomach), pay attention! These are warning signs that you should not ignore.
Here are the most common risk factors associated with heart disease:
- Cholesterol levels- specifically having high LDL and low HDL.
- Prolonged, elevated blood pressure
- Family history of heart disease
- Smoking Obesity Physical Inactivity
- Uncontrolled Anger
If you can check off a few things on that list, consider these ways to keep your heart as healthy as possible:
- Improve your cholesterol levels by eating a diet low in saturated and trans fats, sugars and salt, and high in antioxidants and plant based foods
- Quit smoking
- Control your Blood Pressure
- Get regular exercise and daily activity
- Eat a healthy, nutritious diet; and lose weight if necessary
- Manage diabetes and keep it under control
- Manage your stress levels
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