It is the month of love, and what better way than celebrating it than focusing on self-love! Self-love can be many different things; one of those is taking care of your health. This time our focus will be the heart. February is American Heart Month, and we will celebrate it by learning about heart health. The heart is such a vital organ in our body, and there are many things we can do to care for it properly. Unfortunately, according to the CDC , heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States. One very important step to caring for our hearts is incorporating healthy daily habits in our life. This includes healthy eating, sleeping, exercise, and relaxation habits.
What is heart disease?
Several types of heart conditions fit into the category of heart disease. Heart disease is not always evident as it can sometimes be "silent" or undiagnosed until symptoms appear. Some of these symptoms are more extreme, not just a headache or mild pain; these can be anything from a heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia.
A heart attack happens when a part of the heart muscle does not get enough blood. Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is the leading cause of heart attack. Major symptoms of a heart attack include :
· Chest pain or discomfort
· Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
· Pain or discomfort or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
· Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders
· Shortness of breath
Heart failure is when the heart is not able to pump sufficient blood and oxygen to supply to the other organs in the body. Some symptoms of Heart Failure are :
· Shortness of breath during daily activities
· Having trouble breathing when lying down
· Weight gain or swelling in feet, legs, ankles, or stomach
Arrhythmia is when the heart has irregular palpitations, it could be accelerated or very slow palpitations. Some of the symptoms of arrhythmia are :
· Fluttering in the chest
· Racing heartbeat (tachycardia)
· Slow heartbeat (bradycardia)
· Chest pain
· Shortness of breath
The most common form of heart disease in the US is coronary artery disease (CAD) . Before going into more detail on the topic of coronary heart disease, it is important to remember or understand a few key points. The arteries' role in the human body is to carry blood, oxygen, and nutrients from the heart to the rest of the body. Healthy arteries should be flexible and elastic; arteriosclerosis is when the arteries become thick and stiff . Coronary heart disease is caused by a buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries that are in charge of supplying blood to the heart (coronary arteries) . Atherosclerosis is a type of arteriosclerosis; atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats, cholesterols, and other substances in the artery walls, also called plaque . This plaque buildup makes the inside of the arteries narrow; as they become narrow, the blood is not able to flow as it should, and sometimes the flow is even blocked; the plaque can also burst and lead to a blood clot. The result of decreased blood flow to the heart could be a heart attack .
A person is at risk for heart disease when they :
· Have high blood pressure
· Have high blood cholesterol
· Have Diabetes
· Are overweight or obese
· Eat an unhealthy diet
· Lack of physical activity
· Drink alcohol excessively
You can do many things to reduce the risk of heart disease, and this can start by leading a healthy lifestyle. Some tips for a healthy lifestyle can be:
· Eating habits: As you may remember from one of our previous blogs, Eating Habits, the food we put in our bodies does a lot more than satisfy our hunger; we should be mindful and careful in choosing foods that satisfy our hunger and benefit our organism.
· Physical Activity: Another key component in helping your body reduce the risk of heart disease is having a routine of physical activity. This will help maintain a healthy weight and lower your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure.
· No Smoking: Smoking is one of the factors that contribute to the many cases of heart disease; it is important to be aware of the damage that it brings not only to the heart but to the body as a whole.
Many of the preventative measures for heart disease are within our reach. Because of this, understanding the importance of healthy eating, exercising, sleeping, and a healthy lifestyle, in general, can help in reducing the risk of heart disease. As we age, our organs do not function as they did in our younger years, but there is a lot we can do to help them stay healthy and reduce certain risks. Always keep in mind the importance of following your physician's advice and instructions and adjusting to measures your physician has considered proper for your body and your conditions.