Heart health awareness requires learning insights

| February 29, 2016 | 0 Comments
Army News Service artwork

Army News Service artwork

Linda Sanford
Army News Service
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — With Valentine’s Day just passed, we all know that February has special meaning when it comes to matters of the heart.

February is also Heart Health Awareness Month.

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women?

More than 610,000 people die each year in the United States from heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 in every 4 deaths is the result of heart disease.

What are the heart conditions?
Heart disease can include several types of heart conditions, coronary heart disease, or CAD, being the most common in the U.S.

CAD is the narrowing of blood vessels that carry blood to the heart. It is caused by a buildup of plaque, which is a substance of cholesterol and fat, which collects on artery walls that supply blood to the heart. The buildup of plaque narrows the arteries, which could partially or totally block the flow of blood. This narrowing is known as atherosclerosis.

How does heart disease develop?
There are both controllable and uncontrollable factors of heart disease. One uncontrollable risk factor is age, because some hardening of the arteries occurs as we get older. Family medical history and ethnicity are also uncontrollable factors, so be aware of any heart conditions that run in your family or that are common to your specific ethnicity and speak to your primary care provider about any questions you may have.

Risk factors you can control include, but are not limited to, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, alcohol consumption, diabetes and tobacco use.

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of the arteries. Having high blood pressure means the blood in your arteries is flowing too forcefully, which puts pressure on artery walls causing tearing and making your heart work harder than it needs to.

High cholesterol is also a controllable risk factor for heart disease. Cholesterol is a soft waxy substance found in blood and in the body’s cells. It is normal to have some cholesterol in our body because it is needed to serve other functions.

Cholesterol can also be found in certain foods, such as meats, eggs and butter. Too much cholesterol can cause the buildup of plaque, which again can lead to heart disease.

Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease because it puts one at a higher risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and diabetes. Managing your weight is the best way, other than to quit smoking, to prevent heart disease.

Diabetes is another risk factor because the chances of having a stroke or heart attack increase by four times with diabetes.

Diabetics causes blood sugar spikes that rise to dangerous levels. After long periods of time, this causes damage to the heart.

Therefore, getting regular checkups to monitor your glucose will help keep your blood sugar at a safe level.

Tobacco use in any form is the single most preventable cause of death in the U.S. Tobacco negatively affects every part of your body. It reduces the amount of oxygen in your blood, raises your heart rate and blood pressure, and ultimately increases your risk of coronary artery disease.

People who use tobacco are 2-4 times more likely to get heart disease.

B_Pacific Regional Medical Command LogoTAMC TIP:
Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.
Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.

Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease.

Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness.

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity at least five times per week for optimal cardiovascular health.

Controlling and preventing risk factors by making healthy changes not only lowers your risk of developing heart disease, but also is important for people who already have heart disease. To lower your risk, watch your weight, quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke, control cholesterol and blood pressure, drink only in moderation, and get active and eat healthy.

Here are some tips – because for a healthy groove, you gotta move – for you and your family:
Encourage a more active lifestyle. Get yourself and your kids away from the TV or video games and head outside to play or walk.
Do more than sit on a bench while the kids play. Get involved and feel like a kid again.
Enjoy a family game of catch. Kicking a ball around or tag makes for better health, plus makes great memories.
Set the example. If your kids see you exercising, they’re more likely to do it themselves.

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Category: Community, Health

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