Celebrating American Heart Month This February
February is American Heart Month and the perfect time to focus on the health of the most important organ in your body. That means eating a healthy diet, working in plenty of physical activity, and discussing your heart's health with your doctor. It's no small task to take on, but it can vastly improve your quality of life.
What makes the heart so important though?
From a young age, we were told about the significance of heart health. In simple terms, we know it pumps blood throughout the body, but it's a little more complicated than that. Consequently, the more you know about how it works can give you a better idea of how to take care of it.
Signs of a Healthy Heart
The heart plays an important role in regulating blood pressure levels and maintaining a healthy weight. Therefore, it is a vital organ that pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout your body and helps maintain your circulation. The blood flow is crucial and has a strong influence on many other parts of your body.
The heart is also responsible for pumping nutrients and hormones throughout your body. This is why when there are problems with the heart, they can lead to serious complications including high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attacks.
Your heart can also be affected by other organs, such as your liver or kidneys. For example, the kidneys are responsible for removing waste products like urea from your bloodstream, which can then cause an imbalance in electrolytes in your blood. This can lead to arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat.
Since conditions can be interconnected, medication may be needed when trying to regulate various issues. It is best to consult your doctor and then follow treatment plans exactly as they are laid out. There are ways to obtain your medication with services like OptionRx if that is determined to be a necessary next step.
Symptoms of Heart Disease
Another key step to taking care of your heart is knowing what to look for when it comes to heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America and can be caused by genetics, lifestyle, or other factors.
The term is broad and encompasses many different diseases. According to the Mayo Clinic, they can be caused by irregular heartbeats (heart arrhythmias), heart defects, diseased heart muscle (cardiomyopathy), heart infection, or heart valve problems (valvular heart disease).
Consequently, it can be difficult to diagnose because there is such a wide range of symptoms. It is important to know what they are so you can get help if you experience them.
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- A feeling of indigestion with no relief from antacids or other medications.
You can read the Mayo Clinic's full list of symptoms for each potential cause of heart disease by clicking HERE.
In regard to seeing your doctor, the Mayo Clinic states "heart disease is easier to treat when detected early." going on to add "If you're concerned about developing heart disease, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease."
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when part of your coronary artery becomes blocked. When this happens, your heart muscle doesn't receive enough oxygen-rich blood.
More specifically, the Mayo Clinic describes the blockage in your artery as "a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances, which form a plaque in the arteries that feed the heart (coronary arteries)." They go on to add that "Sometimes, a plaque can rupture and form a clot that blocks blood flow. The interrupted blood flow can damage or destroy part of the heart muscle."
The symptoms and risk factors for heart disease are very similar to that of a heart attack. They include but are not limited to:
- Pressure, tightness, pain, or discomfort in your chest or arms. This has the potential of spreading your neck, jaw, or back
- Nausea or indigestion
- Abdominal pain
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Keeping Your Heart Healthy
There are many ways to put your heart first this February for American Heart Month.
First, the American Heart Association encourages people to chill out. Stress reduction is a top way to help your heart.
Secondly, get moving and keep an exercise routine. The heart is a muscle and must be exercised to operate at optimal efficiency. AHA recommends 150 minutes or more of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Any physical activity is good for your body compared to sitting so get up throughout the day to keep moving.
Lastly, eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy proteins. Additionally, avoid tobacco and alcohol.
For more lifestyle recommendations to help your heart health from the American Heart Association, CLICK HERE.
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