I hope you all had lots of fun celebrating Valentine’s Day with the ones you love! How clever is it that American HEART Month is celebrated in February every year? In all seriousness, raising awareness about heart health is important year-round, not only in February.
DID YOU KNOW…
- Heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans.
- Heart disease warning signs can appear in people as young as 18.
- Approximately 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent, which means that the damage is already done without the person being aware that it happened.
- Researchers have discovered that heart attacks are very common during fall and winter months, as well as on Monday mornings.
HISTORY OF HEART DISEASE
- Some Egyptian mummies as old as 3,500 years show signs of heart disease. This proves that it’s not just a modern-day problem.
- Several heart disease research groups joined together to form the American Heart Association in 1924. The American Heart Association raises awareness of heart health, educates the public about heart disease, and provides advice on how to take care of our heart.
- In the 1950s, doctors began to better understand cholesterol and the correlation between diet and heart health. A high intake of saturated and trans fats can be very harmful to your heart and arteries.
- President Lyndon B. Johnson declared February to be American Heart Month in 1964.
WHAT IS HEART DISEASE
The CDC states that the term “heart disease” refers to several heart conditions and occurs when the arteries that lead to the heart are clogged. This can be caused by high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use. Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in America. It decreases the blood flow to the heart, and this is what causes a heart attack. Heart disease can affect anyone, but there are many things you can do to reduce your risks and keep your heart healthy.
- Heart attack signs/symptoms: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Women below age 50 are TWICE as likely to die of a heart attack than men of the same age. Also, a woman’s signs of a heart attack are different from a man’s. The director of the Johns Hopkins Columbia Heart Failure Clinic, Dr. Lili Barouch, states that, “While the classical symptoms, such as chest pains, apply to both men and women, women are much more likely to get less common symptoms such as indigestion, shortness of breath, and back pain, sometimes even in the absence of obvious chest discomfort.”
- Arrhythmia signs/symptoms: Fluttering feelings in the chest (known as heart palpitations).
- Heart failure signs/symptoms: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR RISK
- Educate yourself by learning about the risk factors for heart disease and the ways you can prevent them.
- Manage your blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. If you’re worried you might be at risk for heart disease, talk to your doctor.
- Be physically active. This is one of the most important aspects of staying healthy and preventing disease. This is also essential for aging well.
- Consume a healthy and balanced diet (daily vegetables, less processed foods, plenty of water).
- Don’t forget to focus on your mental health. Find ways to reduce your stress, get enough sleep, and calm your mind.
Check out https://www.heart.org for more information and advice!