Matters of the Heart
Your heart, one of the most important organs in your body receives recognition this month. Not for all of the hard work it does each and every day pumping blood throughout your body, but to raise awareness of heart disease. The American Heart Association reports that 1 in 3 Americans die from heart disease with 92.1 million adults living with some form of it. Show your heart some love this month by learning the risk factors and what you can do to lower your own risk.
Know the Symptoms
Knowing the symptoms of a heart attack and identifying your risk are the first steps in prevention. “You must also work to incorporate healthy lifestyle habits,” says Dr. Waters “Eating a healthy low-saturated fat diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, and seeing your doctor on a regular basis are all important steps in prevention.”
While some factors, like genetics, aren’t modifiable or controllable, it's important to protect yourself against heart disease by identifying your risks and gauging your health status. According to Dr. George Waters, board certified Cardiologist at Sturdy Cardiology Associates, “Being overweight, inactive, smoking, high stress, and family history increase the risk of heart disease and heart attack.” If you have an unhealthy diet chock full of saturated fat, salt and cholesterol, you are putting yourself at risk for the development of heart disease and obesity. Even more so—if you do not engage in physical exercise, you have an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, risk of blood clots, and heart disease.
Be sure to include fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts and legumes into your diet while limiting sodium, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meats, and saturated fats. Commit to a small goal of physical exercise each day—30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day as well as strength and stretching workouts can improve heart health. If you are a smoker—quit —quitting smoking reduces your risk for heart attack each year that you remain a nonsmoker.
Additionally, schedule your annual exams with your primary care provider. These exams provide monitoring of your overall health status, any change can prompt further screening and necessary follow-up care.