February is Heart Health Awareness month. This article will give you some tips on maintaining your heart health. Did you know that African Americans are 30% more likely to die from heart disease than White Americans? But there are things that you can do for your health that can reduce your risk for heart-related diseases.
- There are many different types of heart disease. The most common is coronary artery disease. This disease causes narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries which supply blood to the heart.
- Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attacks.
- Heart defects present from birth called congenital heart defects can also cause heart disease.
To maintain your heart health
- Maintain a healthy diet that is low in saturated fats (butter, lard, coconut oil), trans fats (margarine, beef), and salt.
- Exercise regularly. Some great options are going on a walk or turning up your music and dancing!
- Be smoke and tobacco free.
- Limit alcohol consumption. It is recommended that men only consume 2 drinks per day and women 1 drink per day.
- Maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
- Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
What is Cholesterol?
- Cholesterol is a type of fat (lipid) combined with protein which are found in foods such as egg yolks, meat, and cheese.
- Too much cholesterol in the blood can cause plaques to form. These plaques stick to your arteries and can cause narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries. This is known as coronary artery disease.
- There are 3 types of cholesterol HDL (high-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein), and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein). High levels of LDL and VLDL can lead to cholesterol plaques in your arteries.
- High cholesterol occurs when you have too much LDL and VLDL cholesterol or too much total cholesterol. Healthy levels vary by age and sex, read more here. https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterollevelswhatyouneedtoknow.html
- Be sure to get a blood test to check your cholesterol levels and talk to your healthcare provider about how they affect your heart health and any recommended treatments.
Cholesterol Management tips
- Eat a heart healthy diet that limits saturated and trans fats and emphases fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise, it is recommended that adults do 22 minutes of moderate activity like yardwork, walking briskly, or playing with children.
- Managing stress.
- Maintain a smoke free lifestyle.
What is Blood Pressure?
- Blood pressure is the amount of force that is exerted on your arteries by blood moving through your body.
- Systolic blood pressure is the amount of force being exerted when your heart beats. This is when your blood pressure is the highest.
- Diastolic blood pressure is the amount of force being exerted when your heart is at rest during this time your blood pressure is at its lowest.
- When you get a blood pressure reading both systolic and diastolic blood pressure will be measured, for example 120/80 means you have a systolic blood pressure of 120 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure of 80 mm Hg.
- High blood pressure or hypertension in adults is when your blood pressure reading is consistently higher than 140/90.
Blood Pressure Management tips
- Eat a healthy diet limiting the amount of salt (sodium) that you eat. A healthy diet should emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
- It is recommended that adults should do 22 minutes per day of aerobic exercise that rises the heart rate, some great options are walking, dancing, doing yardwork, and team sports.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Limit alcohol consumption, it is recommended that men have only 2 drinks per day and women 1.
- Manage stress.
- Maintain a smoke free lifestyle.
- Your blood pressure is taken at most doctor’s visits, so be sure to ask your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns you have.
Heart Attack Warning Signs
- Chest discomfort– usually in the center or left of the chest lasting more than a few minutes. It may come and go and can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, pain, heartburn, or indigestion.
- Shortness of breath– this may be your only symptom. Can also come during chest discomfort and can happen when doing physical activity or resting.
- Discomfort in the upper body– pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
- If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms it is important to call 911 and get immediate medical attention.
Although this is a lot of information, maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels have many similarities. If you are worried about your heart health you should talk to your healthcare provider about the best options to maintain or improve your heart health.
Heart Disease and African Americans by the Office of Minority Health https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/browse.aspx?lvl=4&lvlid=19
General information about Heart Disease by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/heartdiseases.html
Cholesterol by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterol.html
Heart Attack by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/heartattack.html
How to lower Cholesterol by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/howtolowercholesterol.html
High Blood Pressure by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/highbloodpressure.html
How to prevent High Blood Pressure by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventhighbloodpressure.html
Cholesterol Levels by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/cholesterollevelswhatyouneedtoknow.html
Congenital Heart Defects by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/congenitalheartdefects.html
How to Prevent High Blood Pressure by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventhighbloodpressure.html
How to Lower Cholesterol with Diet by the National Library of Medicine Medline Plus https://medlineplus.gov/howtolowercholesterolwithdiet.html
How alcohol affects blood pressure by the Mayo Clinic https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/expert-answers/blood-pressure/FAQ-20058254?p=1