Wellness Wednesday – Healthy Heart Tips with Nurse Lauren
Hi there, Nurse Lauren here with your Wellness Wednesday tip! It’s February and this month we are going to talk all about your heart! It’s true that this month makes you think of candy hearts and heart shaped balloons, but having a healthy heart is serious. If you want to actually grow old and be healthy with the one for whom you are buying Valentines, then keep reading! Here are a few Dos and Don’ts to make sure you are taking care of one of your most important muscles.
- SEE A DOCTOR! Visit your healthcare provider and get the facts. What is your cholesterol level? Blood pressure? Blood sugar? Percentage of body fat? Know your numbers so you can make a plan. Have you been ignoring symptoms that could possibly be serious? Get the opinion of a professional.
- EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES! If you have high cholesterol you run the risk of developing heart disease. To ensure your cholesterol does not get to a dangerous level your diet should consist of foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol. Another healthy choice is selecting fresh foods over processed foods. Fruits and vegetables are excellent choices to keep your diet healthy.
Why is it important to take care of my heart? In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women and for people of most ethnicities including Caucasians, African Americans, and Hispanics. One in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. 735,000 Americans have a heart attack every year.
- SMOKE! Tobacco use is the number one preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking can cause blood clots which block blood flow to the heart. This contributes to plaque build up in your arteries. And even if you have kicked the habit, but your loved one hasn’t? Secondhand smoke is responsible for approximately 41,000 deaths a year. Have I still not convinced you to put that butt down? Check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s page on Tobacco-Related Mortality.
- OVEREAT! Consuming too much food combined with a lack of physical activity can lead to obesity. Obesity opens the door to high blood pressure, diabetes, and eventually heart disease. Be mindful of your daily calorie intake as well as the types of foods you are eating. Portion control, meal planning, and having healthy snacks prepared are the best ways to combat overeating. Also listening to your body. Stop periodically during each meal and ask yourself: “Am I still hungry?” If you are not, stop eating, no matter what is left on your plate.
What are the major factors that increase your risk for heart disease? Behaviors like unhealthy diets, an inactive lifestyle, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption lead to conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. These conditions are high risk factors. Other factors to consider are family history, age, and ethnicity.
The most common type of heart disease in the U.S. is coronary artery disease or CAD. For many, the first sign of CAD is a heart attack. Your arteries are responsible for supplying blood to your heart and the rest of your body. Arteries narrow as deposits of cholesterol, fat, and other substances buildup. This buildup is called plaque. At first, plaque can partially block the flow of blood. This buildup causes coronary artery disease. Eventually if the plaque continues to build in the arteries, narrowing the passage, blood flow will be completely blocked. Chest pains, or angina, are a result of your heart muscle not getting enough blood. The most common symptom of CAD is angina. It is important that overtime you develop good habits to avoid the conditions that put you at risk for heart disease. This is Nurse Lauren, contributor of NursesNOW, signing off with your Wellness Wednesday tip!