Your heart. How often do you think about it? Probably not often although it’s been working for you since your mom was 6 weeks pregnant with you ( let that breathe over you for a minute) and it has continued its work tirelessly for you and will do so until you breathe your last breath.
It’s heart health month here in the U.S. but I’m pretty sure heart health is a world wide important thing, right? The focus of course is to make people aware of their heart and how to take better care of it for a long life.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. Seriously. Over all cancers and diseases it’s at the top of the charts.
The good news is… it’s one of the most preventable types of diseases.
The sad news is aside from genetic issues some have, most of it is brought on by our lifestyle and what we do or don’t do to ourselves.
Consider some of these sobering stats:
Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States
Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined.
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually
In regards to women consider these facts: Pay attention ladies.
- Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
- While 1 in 31 American women dies from breast cancer each year, 1 in 3 dies of heart disease.
- Heart disease causes 1 in 3 women’s deaths each year, killing approximately one woman every minute.
- Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat.
- An estimated 43 million women in the U.S. are affected by heart disease.
- Ninety percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease.
- Since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.
- The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men, and are often misunderstood.
(source Sources: CDC.gov – Heart Disease Facts
American Heart Association – 2015 Heart Disease and Stroke Update)
Heart disease is a huge issue and you (mostly) have control over it. What are steps you can take to keeping and having a healthy heart?
Don’t smoke. Smoking damages the heart and blood vessels. Smokers have a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Maintain a healthy weight. Don’t be in denial. If you’re overweight you know it and it’s not good for your heart .
Being overweight or obese increases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. It also increases your chances of having high blood pressure/ and or cholesterol.
Know your numbers. Your cholesterol ( good and bad) and triglycerides are important numbers to let you know what’s going on inside you. Talk with your doctor about what yours should look like.
At my last visit he informed me that my good cholesterol was really high ( because of my exercise) my triglycerides were only double digit numbers.. something he said he almost never sees… again.. thank you good nutrition and exercise 🙂
Your blood pressure. Again, know what’s your normal range and stay in that zone. Losing as little as 10lbs can dramatically drop it.
What other ways can you be proactive to having a healthy heart?
Watch what you eat! Strive to eat whole, healthy foods and skip processed, refined or fast foods.
Be aware of your weight. Less body mass is less strain on your heart.
Exercise. I can’t stress this enough. Your heart is a muscle that needs worked out too. Vigorous cardio exercise, minimum of 30 minutes, most days of the week is essential to keeping your heart strong and fit. Not only that. it benefits the rest of you too 😉
How does cardiovascular exercise affect your heart?
When performing cardio, blood flow is directed toward working muscles and away from areas that aren’t doing much (such as your arms during running, or the digestive tract). There is increased blood flow, and blood volume returning to the heart.
As the heart registers a larger blood volume, over time the left ventricle adapts and enlarges. This larger cavity can hold more blood, and ejects more blood per beat, even at rest.
Over time, with chronic cardio training, our resting heart rate drops because each beat delivers a bigger burst of blood, and fewer beats are needed. This takes work off your heart and is why cardio exercise is recommended for heart health.
I’ve been tracking my heart rate for awhile and it’s been interesting to see my resting heart rate bouncing between the high 40’s -low 50’s. All that cardio has had payoffs… a much lower resting heart rate.
Other cool stuff about your heart on exercise….
When done regularly, moderate- and vigorous-intensity physical activity strengthens your heart muscle. This improves your heart’s ability to pump blood to your lungs and throughout your body. As a result, more blood flows to your muscles, and oxygen levels in your blood rise.
Like all muscles, the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise, so it can pump more blood through the body with every beat and continue working at maximum level, if needed, with less strain. It becomes a powerful, more efficient working machine for you.
Seriously, I cannot stress enough the importance of strong, vigorous exercise for your hearts health.
Whether you are aware of it or not, your heart works constantly for you. An amazing piece of equipment planted in your chest bringing life giving blood and oxygen to every part of your body with no effort on your part.
Your effort.. should come in taking care of it… doing everything you can to keep it strong, healthy and fit.