February is all about matters of the heart, but not in the way you may be thinking. Yes, Valentine’s Day takes place this month and love is in the air, but in addition to heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and red roses, February is also American Heart Month.
As one of the most vital organs in the body, the heart impacts our overall health and wellness. When your heart is functioning properly, it helps all parts of your body stay healthy. However, according to the American Heart Association, 48% or 121.5 million adults over the age of 20 are affected by a form of cardiovascular disease.
This is a time when individuals are encouraged to focus on their cardiovascular health, so our Franklin Park® Senior Living team shares how you can prevent heart disease and promote heart health.
Heart Disease: What is it?
An important part of promoting heart health is understanding what heart disease is and how to prevent it. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada states, “heart disease is any condition that affects the structure or function of the heart. Most people think of heart disease as one condition. But in fact, heart disease is a group of conditions with many different root causes.”
Medical News Today explains five of the most common types of heart disease:
- Coronary artery disease – This is the most common type of heart disease and occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged with plaque.
- Arrhythmia – This refers to an irregular heartbeat, meaning the heart either beats too quickly, slowly, or erratically.
- Dilated cardiomyopathy – This occurs when the chambers of the heart become dilated, leading to the heart muscle stretching and becoming thinner.
- Myocardial infarction – Also called a heart attack, involves an interruption of blood flow to the heart and can cause damage to the heart muscle.
- Congenital heart defects – There are many types of congenital heart defects, but this form of heart disease refers to a person born with a heart problem.
Like many chronic conditions, several risk factors could increase your chances of developing a cardiovascular condition. Luckily, many of these are controllable; you can reduce your risk significantly with certain lifestyle changes. These risk factors include:
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Unhealthy diet
- Physical inactivity
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists common symptoms of heart disease as:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Upper back or neck pain
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Palpitations or fluttering feelings in the chest
Improving & Maintaining Heart Health
Get Your Heart Pumping
Not getting enough exercise is one of the top risk factors for heart disease. One way to decrease your chances of developing a cardiovascular condition and promote heart health is to stay physically active.
Try a variety of activities, including aerobic exercises that will increase your heart rate, strength building, flexibility, and balance exercises to improve overall wellness.
Visit Your Doctor
High blood pressure and cholesterol rarely show symptoms, so the only way to know that your levels are in a healthy range is to test them. This makes visiting your doctor regularly an important part of maintaining heart health.
If your levels are high, your doctor will work with you to discuss ways to get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels within a healthy range.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Your body needs certain nutrients to function at its best. By maintaining a healthy diet, you are helping to promote heart health.
Plant-based foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains nourish your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs without adding the fats and cholesterol that can be bad for your heart. Additionally, avoiding saturated fats, salty foods, and fatty meats can help keep your cholesterol levels within the healthy range.
Each part of our health is connected, so by taking care of your heart health, you are helping to promote your overall health and wellness.
Our senior living communities in Texas can also help you do this! Franklin Park® Senior Living makes leading an active and healthy lifestyle easy with engaging amenities, exceptional care services, and more. Learn more about what we offer by visiting our website or contacting a member of our team.