February is American Heart Month
Q: Is it true that men suffer heart attacks more often than women?
A: Yes, statistically more men experience heart attacks than women. However, women are more likely to die from a heart attack than men and need to take their heart health just as seriously.
Q: What are some things I can do to keep a healthy heart or improve my heart health?
- There are many things. Firstly, if you’re a smoker, stop smoking! This unhealthy habit is a major contributor to an unhealthy heart. Nicotine makes the heart work harder and carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. The good news? Within one year of quitting smoking, your risk of heart disease decreases significantly.
- Secondly, exercise! Studies have shown that regular exercise may improve blood sugar regulation, promote healthy cholesterol levels, and lower blood pressure (aka hypertension) – which is very important because high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Another benefit of exercise? It helps with weight control, and maintaining a healthy weight is key to maintaining a healthy heart.
- Thirdly, eat a healthy diet. Translation, eat less salt, saturated and trans fats that can be found in red meat, dairy products, coconut oil, fried foods, packaged foods, margarine, and certain bakery products. In addition to reducing these foods, you should also increase your vegetable and fruit intake.
- Last, but not least, get regular check-ups. At least once a year (and more if your doctor deems it necessary), get blood sugar and cholesterol screenings and get your blood pressure checked.
Q: My father died of a heart attack. Does that make me more likely to have one?
A: Possibly. If heart disease runs in your family, you should talk with your physician about your risk level. But remember, lifestyle choices – healthy and unhealthy – also play a role with heart disease.
- I’m confused. What is the difference between a heart attack, stroke and heart failure?
- Good question!
- Heart Attack – A heart attack occurs when blood supply to the heart is diminished or even cut off. When this happens, the lack of oxygen damages the heart resulting in a heart attack. Blood supply is reduced when the arteries narrow or there is a blockage in the passage.
- Stroke – A stroke occurs when there is reduced blood flow to the brain. Much like the heart, the limited blood flow decreases the amount of oxygen going to the brain, and therefore depleting your brain tissue from the nutrients it needs.
- Heart Failure – Heart failure, or congestive heart failure (CHF), occurs when your heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. This is a condition where over time, arteries will narrow, and the heart will be too weak to pump efficiently.
For more information on heart disease and measures to take to prevent heart disease, please visit www.cdc.gov and www.heart.org.
This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit www.vnatc.com.