Happy American Heart Month!
Fitting for a season about love, February is American Heart Month! American Heart Month was created to raise awareness surrounding heart health and encourage everyone to embark on a healthier lifestyle to prevent heart disease. Heart disease increases as a risk as age increases, but it is largely preventable. With the right diet, habits, and lifestyle, your heart will be on the right track to avoid any heart disease.
What Heart Health Means
Heart health includes awareness and decisions. Awareness includes being knowledgeable about heart disease in general, as well as knowing your chance of developing heart disease based on risk factors. Decisions come in the form of making healthy decisions, and these choices have to be implemented every day. Making changes with your heart in mind not only reduces your risk of developing heart disease, but can positively impact your body as a whole.
Risk Factors For and Signs of Heart Disease
Heart disease is not a singular affliction, but rather a term that describes a group of health conditions affecting the heart. The American Heart Association reports that as of 2019, 48% of the adult population in the United States has some form of cardiovascular disease. While the prevalence is driven mainly by high blood pressure, such a symptom is still an indicator of poor heart health. Signs and symptoms of heart disease include feeling faint, light-headedness, difficulty catching your breath, chest pain, sweating, and an irregular heartbeat, among others. Your risk for heart disease may be heightened by high blood pressure, high cholesterol, the presence of diabetes, unhealthy diets, age, and being overweight or obese.
Improving Your Heart Health
While some risk factors cannot be changed, like your age, many others can be mitigated or prevented entirely by changing your lifestyle. Read on to discover how to improve your heart health!
Treat Chronic Conditions with Care
It’s hard for your heart to work properly when it is compensating for other conditions, and treating your body holistically is the best way to prevent heart disease. Because all of your organs work in synchrony, it is vital to properly treat and manage diabetes, osteoporosis, mental illnesses, and autoimmune diseases, among other things.
Reduce Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Cholesterol and blood pressure are directly tied to your heart health. Blood pressure describes the force with which your heart pumps blood. High cholesterol is excess lipids in the blood, which can build up in the walls of your arteries. A build up of this plaque reduces the size of your arteries, making your heart work harder to push the same amount of blood it used to. Control both of these factors through diet and exercise, and consult a doctor if necessary!
Engage in Exercise
Regular exercise – defined as at least 30 minutes per day – is a great way to fight heart disease. Not only does exercise often lower cholesterol and blood pressure, but it also helps make the muscles of your heart stronger.
Monitor Stress and Mental Health
While stress and mental illness are thought to only affect the brain, the behaviors and factors that arise as a result of their presence can be severely detrimental to the heart. Both conditions can cause overeating, physical inactivity, and worst of all, rapid and severe heart muscle weakness (cardiomyopathy). Especially in seniors, who often experience loneliness and depression as they age, monitoring mental health is key in preventing cardiac problems.
Watch Your Intake
First and foremost, a healthier diet is essential for heart health. Keep your fresh produce intake high, and limit things like fat, salt, and unhealthy cholesterol-filled foods like fatty meat, dairy, and fast foods. Watching your intake extends to substances as well; nicotine and alcohol should be avoided due to their direct and indirect effects on the cardiac system.
Agility Health Can Help
Agility Health is dedicated to helping seniors live a happier, healthier life. Our nurses and caregivers are friendly and qualified, and are able to help with a range of daily living tasks that can reduce heart disease. Our agency even helps develop entirely personalized care plans specific to any lifestyle. If your loved one is at risk of heart disease, or simply seeking home care services, contact Agility Health today!