While heart-shaped candy and decorations can be seen everywhere for Valentine’s Day, February is also designated as American Heart Month, an effort to raise awareness of cardiovascular diseases.
Every minute, an American dies of coronary heart disease. Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are the nation’s number one killer, according to the American Heart Association. Approximately 64 million Americans become victims to one or several forms of cardiovascular disease, including congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure.
While the perception exists that cardiovascular disease affects mainly males, it is actually common among both sexes. In addition, there are four major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, all of which are controllable to a certain degree.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and lack of regular exercise are all deadly elements that can contribute to complications of the heart.
If you or a family member fall into one of these groups, or if your family has a medical history of cardiovascular complications, talk with your physician about the possibility of developing cardiovascular disease.
A thorough physical exam of your weight, blood pressure and cardiovascular fitness can help identify possible complications. A physician can advise whether you might benefit from an electrocardiogram, a test that allows physicians to take a closer look at your heart.
If you are found to be at high risk for heart disease, your doctor can supply you with the tools needed to fight back. Prescribed medication, a medically-directed diet and an exercise program are the usual options prescribed to improve your health.
Those who are physically active are twice as likely to prevent a heart attack. In addition, excess weight also increases the likelihood of heart related illnesses. According to the American Heart Association, exercise is beneficial in the long run as it decreases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other medical related illnesses.
Physical activity can improve the condition of your heart and lungs. Exercise routines should be brisk enough to raise your heart and breathing rates, sustained for at least 30 minutes without interruption and repeated at least three to five times per week.
Foods rich with cholesterol are a major contributor to clogged arteries, which can cause a heart attack. Exercise and eating a healthy mix of foods is your best way to prevent cardiovascular problems.
At-risk individuals should adopt a diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables as they have been linked to lowering risks of heart disease. In addition, up to 30 grams of fiber should be consumed every day. Because high blood pressure is linked to sodium intake, you should limit the amount of salt in your diet.
Diets should be incorporated into a new lifestyle, along with exercise, to increase your overall health. As with any change of lifestyle, you are encouraged to consult with your physician to make sure your body can handle the prospective changes.
Graham Regional Medical Center offers a variety of programs to help prevent, diagnose and treat cardiovascular problems. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a physician, call us at 940-549-3400.