Did you know that February is American Heart Month? Of course the month of February makes us think of Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, but what about your heart health?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States, causing 1 in every 4 deaths per year. Heart disease can effect everyone differently, and signs and symptoms are different for women than they are for men. It is important to be well informed about your own personal health, risk factors and steps you can take to ensure your heart is healthy and strong. Scheduling a visit with your doctor can help you better understand your personal health numbers including your cholesterol levels, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI).
Once you have a better understanding of your current health status, your next step should be to access your risk factors for heart disease. Some of these risk factors cannot be fixed, but luckily, some can with the help of your doctor and some positive lifestyle changes.
Risk factors that are out of your control include:
- Family Health History
- History of previous stroke or heart attack
Risk factors that you can manage:
- High cholesterol – Excess cholesterol can build up in the inner walls of your arteries over time. When the cholesterol hardens, it turns into plaque (fatty deposits). This can be dangerous because plaque can narrow arteries and reduce blood flow in the heart.
- High blood pressure – High blood pressure causes the heart to work harder than normal. If left untreated, it can scar and damage arteries. The risk of high blood pressure increases as you get older. Those that are overweight and have family history of high blood pressure are at an even greater risk.
- Smoking – Smoking can cause high blood pressure and can increase the risk of heart disease by 2-4 times. When you quit smoking, you can cut your risk for heart disease in half just one year later and it continues to decline the longer you abstain from smoking.
- Lack of physical activity – Without regular physical activity you are at a greater risk of developing blood clots, high blood pressure, having a heart attack or stroke and/or experiencing other heart related issues. Lack of exercise also can lead to obesity and being overweight. Being overweight can strain your heart and raises your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as increases your risk for diabetes.
- Diabetes – Speaking of developing diabetes, adults with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than those without diabetes.
Yes, you may not be able to control certain risk factors like age and family history, but luckily even small changes to your lifestyle can make a big difference when it comes to improving your heart health! Increasing your activity, improving your diet and cutting sugars, and losing weight can help reduce your risk by as much as 80%!
We know making these changes can be scary and overwhelming. We’re here to help you take action! Love yourself this Valentine’s Day and contact us so we can help you create a detailed action plan to lead a heart healthy life!