February 13, 2019 | Abby Caviness
Since February is American Heart Month, take a few minutes to educate yourself on different ways to protect yourself against heart disease*—the leading cause of death for men and women in the U.S., according to HealthFinder.gov1. While the statistics can be daunting, there are several initiatives you can take to prevent heart disease and make sure your heart—and the rest of your body—is well taken care of.
Get to know your heart
According to Healthline2, your heart affects every part of your body, which makes it the most important organ. So, you need to protect it at all cost and in order to protect it, you must know what it’s up to.
Doing a quick deep-dive search on your heart reveals some interesting facts2:
- You heart is controlled by an electrical system in your body
- Most heart attacks happen on a Monday
- Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood each day
- Your blood vessel system would extend more than 60,000 miles if stretched out
- Laughing is a good way to reduce stress on your heart and boost your immune system.
Aside from these fun facts, educating yourself on what your normal levels should be and how to detect irregularities will help you know when your heart health is not where it should be. For instance, a normal resting heart rate for the average adult ranges from 60 to 100 beats per minute, according to The Mayo Clinic.3 So, if you know how your heart should be functioning, you are more prepared when issues arise.
Consider making a change
Since your heart is the most hardworking organ in your body, the key for keeping your heart healthy is to work for it so it can work for you. Try adopting a few new habits to get your heart health on the right track and reduce your risk of heart disease.
In 2011, the American Heart Association (AHA)4 created a set of goals for U.S. heart health called Life’s Simple 7®5—seven areas in your life to improve, which positively affect your heart health. These include:
- Managing your blood pressure
- Controlling your cholesterol
- Reducing your blood sugar
- Getting active
- Eating better
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking.
Taking care of your heart requires you to intentionally change your life, being more mindful of your intake, your activities and monitoring your Life’s Simple 7 factors. When you take the time to go the extra mile for your heart, your heart will go the extra mile for you.
Research underlying issues
The AHA also links higher risk of heart disease with neglecting to take care of other aspects of your health, which include:
- Getting enough sleep
- Practicing mindfulness
- Managing stress
- Keeping mind and body fit
- Connecting socially
In addition to healthy eating and having an active lifestyle, these are just a few equally important factors in taking care of your body. When it comes to heart health, keeping your body healthy keeps your heart happy, so all these aspects should be addressed when you decide to take better care of your heart.
According to Everyday Health,6 depression increases your risk of heart disease, especially in women, so another way to improve your heart health is to deal with any mental health issues you may be facing. Whether you are dealing with depression, stress or any other mental health issue, you heart is affected, and you may want to consider addressing them. Everyday Health also says excess sitting7 is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, so you should make sure you are getting up on your feet whenever you can.
Your heart is affected by a variety of factors, not just the typical ones you might immediately think of. Any improvement you make on your overall health will also improve the quality of your heart health. So, even if you pick just one aspect to work on, your heart will thank you.
Your heart, though it’s only the size of your fist2, is a big deal. Taking the time to improve its function is worth it, and any effort you put in is better than no effort at all.
*This material is provided by USHEALTH Group® for informational/educational purposes only and should not replace medical/clinical advice or direction from your health care provider.
- “American Heart Month,” HealthFinder.gov, Accessed February 5, 2019, https://healthfinder.gov/NHO/FebruaryToolkit.aspx.
- Wells, Diana, “Fun Facts About the Heart You Didn’t Know,” Healthline.com, Written July 6, 2017, https://www.healthline.com/health/fun-facts-about-the-heart#1
- Laskowski, Edward R., Mayo Clinic, MayoClinic.org, Last modified August 29, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/expert-answers/heart-rate/faq-20057979
- American Heart Association, Heart.org, Accessed February 5, 2019. https://www.heart.org/en
- “My Life Check – Life’s Simple 7,” Heart.org, Accessed February 5, 2019, https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/my-life-check–lifes-simple-7
- Brown, Jennifer J., “The Heart Attack and Depression Link,” EverydayHealth.com, Last modified February 11, 2019, https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/health-answers/heart-attack-depression-link/
- Asp, Karen. “9 Amazing Facts About Your Heart,” EverydayHealth.com, Last modified May 13, 2015, https://www.everydayhealth.com/news/9-amazing-facts-about-your-heart/.