The Health of Your Heart is In Your Hands
February 07, 2023 | Blog | Reading Time 4:00 Minutes
February is all about the heart.
Most widely known is the fact that Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love and romance directly attributable to the heart.
More recently, but even more importantly, February is National Heart Health Month.
The bad news about heart health is that cardiovascular disease is prevalent. Reportedly, more than 120 million Americans are living with it. Almost every family in America is touched in some way by it. Worse still is the fact that it is the leading cause of death for both women and men in the U.S.
There’s great news, too, though. Cardiovascular disease is largely preventable and done so with relative ease. And with increased awareness, advancements in affordable health care and technology, and lifestyle changes, it become even easier to avoid.
Because you have so much power in holding off cardiovascular disease, you need to be your own best advocate, and the first step is to understand some important things. BioIQ.com recommends that you know your numbers…learn and understand guidelines for weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Also, get screened for diabetes because untreated, it can lead to heart disease and other ailments. With all this information, you’ll have a better understanding of how you rate in terms of risk and avoidance.
Additionally, learn as much as you can about your family history. Heart disease is not always, but is often genetic, so this is good to know.
A heart-healthy diet includes more of some items of which you’re probably not getting enough and less of others that you may be eating in excess.
- More-fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean meats.
Healthy foods include oatmeal, avocado, dark chocolate, soy, legumes and lentils, almonds and walnuts, green tea, berries, leafy greens, salmon, and garlic.
- Less-salt, saturated fat, and added sugars
And stay hydrated. Water is better than sugary drinks, and if you drink alcohol, limit it to no more than 1-2 glasses/per day.
Smoking is responsible for the most preventable cause of premature death. There are resources to help you quit this life-threatening habit.
Sleep is not a luxury-it’s a necessity. In fact, the National Institute of Health’s News in Health states that it’s as important to your well-being as diet and exercise. Sleep restores your body and promotes good health. Too little sleep raises the risk of diseases, including heart disease, stroke and dementia.
Stress is unhealthy. It increases cortisol which can result in weight gain, depression, and anxiety and can also increase the risk of health issues including heart disease. Find ways to decrease high-stress levels, such as meditation or exercise.
Getting that heart pumping has all sorts of benefits, including lowering the risk of heart disease and enhancing mental and physical health. The American Heart Association recommends five 30-minute moderate exercise sessions each week. These can include walking, jogging, biking, swimming…anything that gets you moving. You should also spend time each week building muscle through strength training.
Happiness is actually good for you, lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. Northwestern Medicine reported that most people find happiness by having a sense of purpose and well-being, and this often translates to better heart health.
Furthermore, studies show that being with others and having social interaction can help stave off health-related risks. This is especially true as you age. Studies have found that loneliness can have a significant negative impact on your health.
The Big Takeaway
The big takeaway is that while the prevalence of heart disease is terrifying, it’s often preventable, and in mostly easy and satisfying ways. Admittedly it might be difficult to quit smoking, choose not to eat a loaded hot dog with a side of chips, and decline a third glass of wine every day. But the difficulty of those actions is far outweighed by the pleasure of finding exercise and activities you enjoy with people you enjoy.
Shipley Living in Wilmington, Delaware, checks all the boxes for living a heart-healthy lifestyle. With the senior living community’s fresh and healthy dining program, exercise classes, engaging programs and activities, and lovely people with whom to do them, becoming and staying heart healthy will be easy. And as the saying goes, ‘with a happy heart, you can lead a happy life.’