February is National Heart Month and our friends at Bankers Healthcare Group are raising awareness about cardiovascular disease via their “Take Charge” initiative. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death among men and women in the U.S. Studies also show that heart disease and stroke cause one in three deaths among women each year.
What’s alarming about this is that 80% of cardiac and stroke events can be prevented with proper education and action. That’s why it’s so important for retirees to learn about the causes, symptoms, and steps for prevention against heart disease. After all, the more you know the better your heart health will be in the long run.
As Bankers Healthcare Group states, cardiovascular disease can be triggered by many factors such as diet, lifestyle, and family history. One of the biggest culprits of heart disease is smoking. Tobacco smoking, as well as secondhand smoke, was one of the top three leading risk factors for cardiovascular disease worldwide. Research shows that 6.2 million deaths in 2010 were due to heart disease from smoking tobacco. Quitting tobacco smoking may be difficult at first, but once you’ve kicked this bad habit your heart will thank you and your overall health will improve as well.
Unhealthy lifestyle habits can also trigger heart problems. A sedentary lifestyle such as sitting all day at the office, watching T.V. for long periods of time, and not being active throughout the day can cause cardiovascular disease. About one in three adults in the U.S. are not physically active and 69% of adults are obese in America. Obesity can also lead to other health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol that can ultimately cause heart disease.
Active adults should know the first signs of a heart attack or coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is when plaque builds up inside coronary arteries and prevents the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. Symptoms of CHD include shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, palpitations, and dizziness.
Heart attacks occur when blood clots stop the blood supply to the heart, and without blood flow, tissue loses oxygen. When a heart attack is coming on you’ll typically feel rapid heartbeats, weakness or shortness of breath, discomfort in the back, jaw, throat or arm. Sometimes a heart attack can even feel like bad indigestion or heartburn. Other symptoms include discomfort or pressure in the chest area or arm below the breastbone. If you feel any of these symptoms it’s important to call 911 immediately and get to a hospital quickly.
Prevention is key to combat cardiovascular disease. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. With simple lifestyle changes, retirees can eliminate their chances of a stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular problems. A healthy diet and active lifestyle is a great way to start. Incorporating good-for-you ingredients into your diet like fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish, as well as foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Choosing low fat dairy and limiting your intake of red meat and sweetened beverages are also important in a healthy diet.
Exercising doesn’t have to be hard either. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least five days a week are great ways to jumpstart an active lifestyle. Once you’ve established an aerobic routine throughout the week, you can add moderate to high-intensity strength training at least two days per week to help build muscle. The variety of workouts should keep you more active and prevent you from getting bored with the same routine everyday. Alternating your workouts can also add more benefits to your lifestyle like having a healthy glow, more energy and strength, and feeling happy.
Lastly, sleep is very important in heart disease prevention. When you don’t get enough or too much sleep you increase your risk of cardiovascular problems. Studies have shown that six to eight hours of sleep every night is the ideal amount that people need for a healthy lifestyle.
So remember to take charge of your heart health. With just a few simple changes in your diet and lifestyle you can prevent cardiovascular disease. Our heart works hard so let's treat it right and live heart healthy everyday!