Did you know that February is also known as American Heart Month? During this time, people across the country take time to shine a spotlight on the importance of heart health. Building awareness about proper ways to care for the heart is more essential than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on the public. Unfortunately, many people have avoided the hospital when experiencing a potential heart attack or stroke, raising the likelihood of death or serious outcomes.
Thankfully, there are many great ways to keep our hearts healthy and stop unwanted diseases or illnesses from developing. Heart disease can be very preventable when individuals choose to live their lives in a healthy and heart-friendly way. This includes adopting a nutritious diet, scheduling regular doctor’s visits, and staying active throughout the week. Keep reading to learn more!
What Exactly is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is also known as cardiovascular disease, and both terms are used to describe various health conditions that impact the heart. Some examples of heart disease include problems with blood vessels, heart rhythm problems, and congenital heart defects. The most common form of heart disease in America is coronary artery disease (CAD), which occurs when arteries that supply blood to the heart become hard and narrowed due to too much cholesterol buildup. Sometimes, CAD can lead to heart attacks, heart failure, stroke, or other problems.
Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Although heart disease can happen to anyone, there are groups of people with a higher risk of developing it. Some common risk factors for cardiovascular disease are:
- Unhealthy diet
- Smoking cigarettes
- Drinking too much alcohol
- High blood pressure
Cardiovascular diseases are actually the leading cause of death in the United States and the world at large. Fortunately, many deaths caused by heart disease can be prevented if people choose to take preventative steps and adopt a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Common Heart Attack Symptoms
Many people are unfamiliar with what a heart attack feels like, and this can actually prevent them from getting the help they need. Taking some time to familiarize yourself with the symptoms of a heart attack can make it more likely to get medical attention when it is needed the most.
Most heart attack victims feel a discomfort in the middle of their chest that lasts for at least a few minutes. This discomfort can come and go and feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or even pain. They may also feel shortness of breath, sweating, pain in the upper body, and lightheadedness. If you or someone else is having a heart attack, make sure to call 911 or emergency medical support right away.
Ways to Lower Your Heart Disease Risk
Thankfully, there are things we can all do to lower our risk of developing heart disease. Visiting your doctor on a regular basis is important as they can check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels to ensure nothing is at an unhealthy level. For people with diabetes, this is also important for monitoring blood sugar levels and getting the right medications. Finding ways to reduce stress levels is also important, as doing so can bring down high blood pressure and cortisol levels in the body.
In addition, physical activity is very important for people looking to improve their heart health. The American Heart Association recommends that people partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every single week. Pair all this activity with a heart-healthy diet and you will be on the way to improving your heart health in no time. Other things that can help lower your risk include quitting smoking, cutting back on alcohol, and getting quality sleep every night.
In conclusion, American Heart Month is an important time of year for building awareness around heart health and cardiovascular diseases. Making an effort to understand what heart diseases can look like and adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle are great steps that people can take to lower their risk of developing unwanted health conditions. If you’d like to set up an appointment to check on your heart health, please contact us today.