February is Heart Health Month and Valentine’s Day, so let’s explore the heart and how we can keep ours healthy.
First, I suggest reviewing a previous post about the HEART’S anatomy and how it works.
At this post we looked at ways the HEART can “break”.
7 important forms of HEART DISEASE.
- Congenital heart disease (problems present at birth)
- Cardiomyopathy- disease of the heart muscle
- Coronary artery disease/myocardial infarction ( heart attack)- the most common cause of death in the United States
- Congestive heart failure
- Sudden cardiac death
- Arrhythmia-irregular heart beats
- Hypertension- high blood pressure
Now we’ll look at protecting our HEARTS from disease, disability and death.
The first step is knowing what increases your risk of developing HEART disease. There are
7 important risk factors for heart disease
- excess body weight
- sedentary lifestyle, too little physical activity
- high blood fats (cholesterol)
- high blood sugar (glucose)
- poor nutrition
There are other risk factors that cannot be changed. These include
- Gender– unfortunately males are somewhat more at risk, especially at younger ages.
- Age– our risk increases as our age does.
- Ethnicity– some ethnic groups have a higher risk. In the United States these are African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics.
- Family history– This means a close relative, like a parent or sibling, who developed heart disease young, or less than 50 years old.
Recognizing that you may have a heart problem can be the first step to getting effective treatment. Here are
7 symptoms that may indicate a heart problem
- Chest pain– this is probably the most recognized heart disease symptoms, but is not unique to heart disease, nor is it always found in heart disease.
- Shortness of breath– especially if it occurs with minimal exertion, or if you find you have less tolerance for exertion.
- Palpitations– this means feeling like your heart is beating too fast, too hard, or at irregular intervals.
- Fatigue- especially if out of proportion to physical activity, if you tire more easily or quickly, or seem to have less energy than in the past
- Unexplained weight gain or swelling in the feet and legs
- Dizziness or lightheadedness when standing or walking, especially after exertion.
- Syncope, the medical term for fainting or passing out, especially if no other obvious cause (some people know they faint at the sight of blood, or with certain smells; that form of fainting is usually harmless, unless injured from falling)
Keeping our HEARTS healthy involves doing what we can to change the first 7 risk factors I mentioned, what doctors often call the modifiable risk factors.
- Stop smoking– consider these 7 surprising reasons to be smoke free
- Control your weight– achieve and stay at a healthy weight.6 steps to losing weight and gaining hope
- Be screened for diabetes and high cholesterol; if found, manage with your doctor’s supervision .10 Silent Signs of Diabetes
- Get more active, do some physical activity on a regular basis.Health lessons from the Women’s World Cup
- Eat less junk food,make healthier food choices. Learn easy ways to shop healthier from the American Heart Association
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly (ask your doctor how often). If you have hypertension, follow your doctor’s management plan, which may include medication. Learn more from FamilyDoctor.org
- Control and manage stress. Medical studies suggest that emotional stress can bring on cardiovascular disease. You can learn more from Dr. James Marroquin’s fascinating post.
Please share this post with your friends on social media. Have a HEART and help them keep theirs healthy too. Thank you.
Always exploring and sharing the HEART of health. Dr. Aletha
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