During the month of February, Americans see the heart as the symbol of love but February is not all about heart shaped candies and Cupid, it is also American Heart Month. Though it is a great time to let your loved ones know how much you care about them, it is also a good time to show yourself the love and learn about your risks for heart disease and stay “heart healthy” for yourself and your loved ones.
According to the CDC and American Heart Association, Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is the number one killer of women and men in the United States and is a leading cause of disability preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities. While some risk factors are uncontrollable, there are many risk factors that can be controlled and/or prevented.
UNCONTROLLABLE RISK FACTORS:
- Age – More than 83% of heart related deaths are in people ages 65+
- Gender – Men automatically have a higher risk
- Heredity – If you have a close relative that has CVD, high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity you have a higher risk
- Race – African-American, Native-American, Mexican-American and Native Hawaiians have been found to be at a higher risk of CVD than other races. Studies show they often have other underlying health issues such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes which contributes to this increase.
- Viral Heart Conditions – Viral infections can cause inflammation (a condition called Myocarditis). Usually, this is no problem but in rare occurrences, it can cause weakening or damage to the heart.
Though these are some factors we cannot change, here are some ways that we can take control of our heart health.
CONTROLLABLE RISK FACTORS:
- Diet – Eat at healthy, well balanced diet: 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats and limit sugary, fatty and processed foods. Limit alcohol intake.
- Physical Activity – Moderate to high intensity movement 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Even little things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, rake the yard instead of using a leaf blower, park in the furthest parking spaces, etc. Also, find a friend to workout with – exercising with a buddy can help your mood and keeps you accountable.
- Tobacco – Smoking – just don’t (or quit – it is never too late)
- Obesity – Maintain a healthy weight and BMI (body mass index) – if need be, get a doctor’s assistance.
- Medication Management – If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes keep in close contact with your physician and take your medications as directed. Keeping these other diseases in check and greatly reduce your changes of CVD.
- Sleep – Try to keep good sleep patterns and get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every day
When trying to become more heart conscious and healthy, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Even addressing 1 – 2 of these risk factors can make a huge difference in your health and reduce your risk of CVD. Also, if you need assistance in weight management or just need some encouragement and direction to get started with a heart healthy exercise regime, our certified professional trainers and fitness nutritionist are here to help. For information contact us at 678-417-0880 ext. 8301 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Bodyrich Fitness Company
Certified Personal Trainer & Fitness Nutritionist