Is Your Heart Healthy?

February is Heart Healthy Month and in honor of all those affected, I dedicate this article to you.

The heart….the glorious organ that is the center of all the chakras. The entity that gives life, sustains life and is the soul of our existence. The red of the blood that symbolizes fight and the warmth that flows from within encompasses protection to the human body. But what happens when it is not working properly?

What is heart disease?

“Heart disease – also called cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease – is a simple term used to describe several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke.
Other types of heart disease include heart failure, an irregular heartbeat – or arrhythmia – and heart valve problems.” —American Heart Association

Heart Disease is the number one killer in America and strokes are the number 4 killer. With the advancements in research and assisted technology, the caliber of early stage detection has increased ten-fold.

Heart disease is a major problem. Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year—that’s 1 out of every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

As a primary care physician, my goal is to educate  on resources available to prevent any RISK FACTORS that can lead to heart disease. We all know good diet and exercise is the foundation for enhancing arterial circulation. But knowing it and acting on it are two different conversations.

Here is a story of a dear friend of mine who presented to the emergency room with vague complaints of fatigue and chest pain. She maintained an active and vibrant lifestyle. She was dismissed in the ER as having musculoskeletal or viral cause of her pain and was being ready to be discharged home. During the change of shifts, another physician came to talk to her and that insightful physician went on their instinct and did a couple more tests. My friend was found to have a two vessel blockage and was taken immediately for a cardiac catherization. She was 36 years old! She is now the voice that there is no discrimination for heart disease!

The heart knows no number or no gender!

No matter how healthy you think you are…..listen to the voices in your body!

Some simple preventative measures that should be started at an early age:

Exercise 4-5x/wk 40-50minutes.
Increasing arterial circulation helps with blood flow and decreases pressure on the heart. And therefore helps maintain BP and your weight. For all you techys out there (myself being one of them ) using gadgets can help motivate and track your progress. Here are some of my favorites. It is WORTH the investment.

Diet control
This is overwhelming and daunting. Here is a great source of heart healthy recipes that anyone can follow:

Maintain healthy weight
Men are considered overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (101.6 centimeters, or cm). Women are overweight if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (88.9 cm). Even a small weight loss can be beneficial. Reducing your weight by just 10 percent can decrease your blood pressure, lower your blood cholesterol level and reduce your risk of diabetes.

Read Labels
Following a heart-healthy diet means watching your sodium, sugar, and fat intake, since these are tied to heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Packaged foods aren’t as healthy as fresh, so it’s important to read food labels to really understand what you’re eating.

Get a good night’s sleep
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., have found that swings in blood pressure and dips in oxygen levels associated with sleep apnea may make your arteries and lungs more prone to damage. In addition, sleep apnea is associated with a greater risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Stop smoking
No further explanation needed!

The reviews are mixed. There is some evidence to support taking fish oil, CoQ10, Magnesium and Folic Acid can help inflammation on the artery walls but more clinical data is being researched to show the true benefits of  these supplements.

Stay positive
The hardships that are endured throughout life will subside, but the long lasting effects  on your body can leave permanent scars. Find your peace in the chaos of the moving world. There is NOTHING in this world that is so detrimental that is worth compromising your health. This too shall pass. But under the gray clouds of distress is the golden lining of your health. Don’t tarnish it.

I leave you with one quote as you continue this journey called life.

“Everything will be all right in the end. And if it is not all right, then it is not the end ……”