Benefits of Moving for Heart Health

Benefits of Moving for Heart Health

Every 37 seconds an American dies from cardiovascular disease. That equates to one is every death in the United States (about 647,000 deaths), are caused by heart disease. Chronic illnesses such as heart disease, costs the US government almost $219 billion each year. These are staggering numbers, but what can we do to lower these statistics? Healthy lifestyle changes such as physical activity goes a long way in achieving this.

Physical activity refers to any movement that works your muscles and requires more energy than at resting. It improves the heart’s capacity to send blood which carries oxygen and other nutrients throughout the body. It helps in strengthening the heart muscle and helps the heart to work less.

So what happens to our heart when we exercise?

  1. The heart muscles are strengthened which makes the heart become more efficient and be able to pump blood throughout your body.

    Performing activities such as walking, gardening, swimming, taking the stairs, dancing and fitness classes are all examples of physical activities. Please note, it is recommended to seek medical professional advice from your doctor before embarking or beginning a new exercise routine.

  2. Exercising reduces blood pressure.

    Regular physical activity makes the heart stronger which in turn, makes the heart work less to pump blood. Blood pressure is the force needed to get blood throughout the body. There are medications that can help lower your blood pressure numbers, but for some, exercise can be enough to reduce blood pressure with no need of any medication.

  3. Exercise helps to maintain a healthy weight.

    Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best gifts for your heart. As we grow older, we tend to become less active, our bodies gains excess weight, which makes the heart to work harder. Exercise helps us to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce excess weight.

There are several activities that are easy to do in order to be being active; you don’t need to go to a gym. You can decide to park your car a little further to get a few extra steps in. Get off the bus a stop or two earlier. Opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Grab a friend and take a nice walk in the park. It is recommended we get in about 10,000 steps a day. But you don’t have to achieve this overnight. It takes discipline and commitment. You can use counting apps on your phone like: pacer, fitbit or googleFit to help you count your steps and keep track of your progress.

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What is Heart Disease?

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a term which covers a range of conditions that affects the heart. Heart disease (most commonly referred to as cardiovascular disease) is a condition in which the blood vessels become narrowed or blocked. Statistics from the American Heart Association (AHA) show that about half of American adults have some type of cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the US- about 647,000 of Americans die annually. Research by the AHA, indicates that there are currently 121.5 million people who have cardiovascular disease- with this number said to increase in the coming years.

Cardiovascular disease describes complications with blood vessels, circulatory system as well as the heart. This can include a number of conditions such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmia (abnormal heart beat/rhythm)
  • Coronary heart disease (the build up of plaque in the arteries, limiting flow of blood to the heart)
  • Heart attack
  • Congenital heart disease (heart defects present at birth)

Our lifestyle choices highly affect the health of our hearts. There are also some choices can increase the risk of heart diseases like; smoking, diabetes, family history, being overweight, amongst others. The risk factor of age is inevitable. Adults age 65 and older are more likely to develop heart diseases. But heart disease can be modified and treated through changes in your lifestyle.

There are several ways in which the heart can be strengthened to ensure a long lasting life with less heart complications and to ensure we are aging gracefully and healthily:

  • Spend more time moving than sitting. Park a bit further than usual, take the stairs, or dance the night away.
  • Quit smoking. There are a number of harmful chemicals in cigarettes that can decrease the amount of oxygen in the body and clog your arteries over time.
  • Lose excess body fat to prevent buildup of plaque in the arteries which may lead to heart attack
  • Prevent or control diabetes and glucose levels
  • Lower triglyceride levels (fats in the blood)
  • Aim for resting blood pressure to be lowered to around 120/80
  • Lower your stress levels

As we age, adapting to a healthy lifestyle will help in strengthening our heart and to see that we live a happy life. Eating nutritious foods and a healthy diet are part of making good lifestyle choices. Here are a few foods that can improve heart health:

  • Fish rich in omega 3: salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel and herring which help reduce the build up of plaque in the arteries.
  • Berries are rich in antioxidants: blueberry, strawberry, blackberries or raspberries
  • Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard. They carry vitamins, minerals and antioxidants
  • Whole grain like oats, whole wheat, brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa- are high in fiber which helps in reduction of bad cholesterol.
  • Avocados: they are high in monounsaturated fats and potassium- help lower cholesterol, blood pressure and risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Dark chocolate! It is high in antioxidants like flavonoids, lowers the risk of calcified plaque in the arteries
  • Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, protein and magnesium that helps to lower blood pressure levels.
  • Green tea is a an anti-inflammatory agent that lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Tomatoes is a powerful antioxidant that also lowers cholesterol and keeps blood from clotting.

What we put on our plates influences almost every aspect of our wellbeing. Including these heart-healthy foods in our diet, can and will help to keep your heart in good shape and minimize the risk of heart disease.

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Heart Attacks

Heart Attacks

When it comes to matters of heart health, we are going to look at the condition called myocardial infarction- most commonly known as a heart attack. But what really is a heart attack? A heart attack is a sudden lack of blood supply to the heart due to the blockage of arteries that supply blood to the heart. A blockage can be caused by the building up of fat in the arteries over time.

During a heart attack, there are a number of warning signs to take note of in case you or a loved one may experience. Some common symptoms may include:

  • Discomfort or tightness around the neck, arm or chest
  • Pain on the arm, chest, jaw or upper abdomen
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or weak
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sensation of being sick
  • A feeling of anxiety

However, it is important to understand that different people experience different symptoms. A heart attack can occur with warning signs and to some (especially women) with no signs or any chest pain.

Heart attack is an emergency, if you experience any of the symptoms or someone near you is experiencing a heart attack, call 911 and state that you are having a heart attack. It is better to seek help and find out you were wrong about it than to ignore. Especially women- who often experience “silent” heart attacks with no warning signs.

According to the American Heart Association, there are a number of risk factors that may increase your chances of having a heart attack. These can include:

  • Gender (men have a greater risk than women)
  • Heredity and family history
  • Obesity/being overweight
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Large consumption of tobacco or alcohol

Age is another high risk factor for a heart attack. As we get older, there are certain changes to our heart that can occur such as the heart not being able to beat as fast, or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries. Over time, this can weaken or damage the heart muscles.

Fortunately, there are a number of measures you can take to prevent a heart attack from happening and/or its reoccurrence such as:

  • Eating a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Being physically active
  • Managing stress
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

After a heart attack it is important to take care of one’s self. Going back to your daily routine will be the ultimate goal especially if you had been hospitalized. However, it is important to seek advice from your doctor/medical profession and to take it one breath at a time. Recovery will depend on the amount of damage that occurred during the heart attack.

Let us take care of our heart’s health, for it is important for our well-being. On this month of love, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Heart Health Awareness

Heart Health Awareness

The month of February is American Heart Month. This is a time to spread awareness about the health of the heart for us and to those around us. It is also about educating ourselves by learning different ways of managing and preventing heart disease. Every February since 1964, former President Lyndon Johnson established American Heart Month as a way to “give heed to the nationwide problem of the heart and blood-vessel diseases, and to support the programs required to bring about its solution.” This is to urge everyone to adopt a healthy lifestyle because diseases know no borders.

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women? Statistics from the World Health Organization show that heart disease causes more than 17 million deaths across the globe every year. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one person dies every 37 seconds from cardiovascular disease in the US. Approximately over 600,000 Americans die from heart disease every year- that is 1 in every 4 deaths!

Heart disease is a disease that can lead to death, and yet, it can be prevented. Some risk factors for heart disease can include:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High cholesterol
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Physical inactivity

Age is another major risk factor for heart disease. Studies have shown that 4 of every 5 deaths due to heart disease occur in people age 65 and over. As we age, our bodies go through changes that may increase your risk of heart disease. This can include the build up of fat in the arteries over time, that can decrease the amount of blood getting to the heart. In turn, this can lead to heart failure and heart attacks. Changes in the arteries as we age, can also lead to high blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to have your blood pressure check regularly.

The American heart Association has named February 7th to be National Wear Red Day. This is a day to raise awareness on health heart issues especially for women. It is also to encourage all people to adopt a healthy behavior change not only for that day but to last a lifetime.

Join me and wear red for heart heath awareness!

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