February 22, 2018

Heart Health Awareness – Year-Round


Create Heart-Healthy Habits 365 Days a Year!

February is American Heart Month. With 17.3 million deaths each year from cardiovascular disease, it’s important to remember about your heart health, not just for the month of February, but year-round!

Let’s take a quick glance at the statistics of heart disease and just how prevalent and dangerous it is:

  1. One in four deaths are caused by heart disease. This makes heart disease more deadly than all of the cancers combined.
  2. 790,000 people in the US have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 114,000 will die.
  3. Only 27% of people can identify the major symptoms of a heart attack. These include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, cold sweats, and discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or upper stomach.
  4. Heart disease can happen at any age. While 82% of people who die of heart disease are older than 65, those with a family history can experience problems much earlier.
  5. The American Heart Association lists smoking, physical inactivity, nutrition, being overweight or obese, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus as the largest risk factors for heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease.

Now that we know the facts about heart disease, lets talk about how you can continue to prevent heart disease year-round:

  1. Add exercise to your daily routine – If you’re not sure where to start, try talking walks in 15-30 minute intervals. At Fort HealthCare we have a walking path for people to use all year. This is great for when those winter months get incredibly cold and bitter. For more information on the Community Walking Program, click here.
  2. Add heart-healthy foods into your diet – From avocado to salmon and dark chocolate – there are many delicious foods that can benefit your heart. Particularly, there are many fats that have heart health benefits. If you want to start eating better for your heart, cutting sodium is a great place to start. Try replacing the salt in your recipes with other herbs or spices to enhance flavor. For recipes, check out Fort HealthCare’s Healthy Recipes!
  3. Quit smoking – According to the American Heart Association, one in six men and one in seven women are smokers. While the damage caused by smoking is not entirely reversible, your body can quickly become much healthier with smoking cessation. In just one year, risk for coronary artery disease diminishes to half of that of a smoker’s. Within five to 15 years, stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. After 15 years, risk of coronary artery disease is reduced to that of a non-smoker’s.
  4. Schedule routine visits with your healthcare provider – The best way to understand any improvements you may need is to talk to your doctor. From measuring your blood pressure to discussing family history, you’ll gain a solid understanding of your heart disease risk.

By understanding your numbers and knowing healthy recipes and exercise routines, you can equip yourself with the necessary tools to keep a healthy heart year-round. With February coming to an end, heart health awareness should carry on for the next week, month, year, lifetime. With tools to help you eat better and exercise more, you’ll be seeing the heart benefits in no time!