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February is American Heart Month. This year, Friday, February 5th is Wear Red Day. This month is a good time to learn more about heart health and perhaps take steps to improve yours if possible.
Heart health is a major focus for most people, and for good reason—it’s terrifying to think that something may be wrong with your ticker. Despite this awareness, many people have misconceptions about heart disease and their vulnerability to it. This article looks at some facts about heart disease that you should be aware of.
1. Heart Disease is a Leading Cause of Death
The reason some causes of heart disease, like high blood pressure, are known as silent killers, is because there are few side effects, but often detrimental consequences. It is not only a leading cause in men but women as well. Even simple changes can reduce your risk of heart disease, including eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.
2. Many Conditions are Known as Heart Disease
One thing you should know is that heart disease is more of a blanket term for related medical conditions. These include congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, and heart attacks. While these diseases have a combination of different causes and side effects, you should take any and all of them seriously. If you have any reason to suspect you might have one of these forms of heart disease or if you have questions about your risk factors, talk to your doctor right away.
3. What is the Most Dangerous Form?
If you are wondering which of these heart diseases is the most common and the most dangerous, it is coronary artery disease. This is when your arteries get clogged from buildup, which can then lead to a heart attack. These heart attacks can range in severity from mild to fatal.
Even knowing these 3 things, you should also remember that your genetics can play a role in whether or not you develop any of these forms of heart disease. You should still do what you can to reduce your risk regardless of whether you might be at high risk or not.
7 Steps to a Happy Heart Despite Heart Disease in Your Family Tree
- Get up and get moving. Physical activity boosts healthy blood flow. When your blood is flowing properly, moving oxygen throughout your body, your heart does not have to work as hard. This means staying active helps contribute to a lower risk of heart disease.
- Keep your cholesterol level in a healthy place. High cholesterol can clog your arteries. This means your heart has to work harder to do its job, and you may suffer a stroke or heart attack because of it.
- Eat right. This means getting fewer fried, salty, sugary foods in your belly. You want to eat more raw foods, fruits and vegetables, whole foods and whole grains. Eat smart to protect your heart.
- Stop smoking and cut back on alcoholic drinks. A few adult beverages throughout the week might have little negative impact on your health. However, no number of cigarettes is recommended. Too much smoking and/or drinking ramps up the probability that you will contract some type of heart disease.
- Lose weight and your heart will feel great. Even being just a little overweight increases the pressure on your heart to circulate blood properly. If you become obese, your chances of developing heart disease grow greater still.
- Monitor your blood pressure frequently. High blood pressure is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
- Keep your blood sugar level in line. Much of the food that you consume turns into glucose, also known as blood sugar. If you maintain a high blood sugar level, you can damage your heart.
Those 7 heart-healthy tips should be practiced by everyone, regardless of age. If your ancestry reveals a history of heart problems in your family, the actions listed above are even more important if you want to keep heart disease at bay.
It is still important to also see your doctor for regular checkups. You may need anything from medication that lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to losing weight, managing your blood sugar levels (diabetes can contribute to heart disease), or even having certain types of surgical procedures.
You should always take your heart health seriously and not underestimate the potential dangers of heart disease, whether it means taking steps to avoid a heart attack or lifestyle changes if your doctor has diagnosed you with hypertension or other health issues.
There will be other articles about heart health during this month. Stay tuned!
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This article provides general information and discussion about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this article, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having.