Heart Health

Live Well, Be Healthy, Be Happy and Live in Favor

This February, fall in love with your OWN HEART.  Instead of just celebrating Valentines Day, lets also celebrate American Heart Month.  Did you know every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack and at least 600,000 people die from heart disease alone.  Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.

There are several conditions that fall under the term "heart disease".  The most common is coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease.  This occurs when a plaque like substance builds up in the vessels (arteries) that supply blood to the heart.  This very sticky and dangerous plaque can cause multiple heart problems, including heart attacks and heart failure.  

Do you know the symptoms of a heart attack?
1.  Pain or discomfort radiating to the jaw, neck, back or arms
2.  Pain, discomfort, pressure or heaviness in the chest or below the breast bone
3.  Shortness of breath or extreme anxiety
4.  Feeling weak, light headed or faint
5.  Sweating, nausea or vomiting
*If you think  you or someone you know is having a heart attack, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1 immediately.

But don't fret, there are a few simple things we can all do to prevent heart disease.
Eat healthier.   Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, visit CDC's Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Web site andChooseMyPlate.gov.

Obtain and maintain a healthy weight.   Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, health practitioners often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI). If you know your weight and height, you can calculate your BMI at CDC's Assessing Your Weight Web site.

Exercise regularly or often.    Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week. For more information, see CDC's Nutrition and Physical Activity Program Web site.

Monitor your blood pressure.   High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor's office. Find more information about a healthy blood pressure at the CDC's High Blood Pressure Web site.

Don't smoke and limit your alcohol use.    Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don't smoke, please don't start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible.  Your health care practitioner can suggest ways to help you quit.  Also avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.  For more information on both topics visit the CDC's Smoking & Tobacco Use Web site, Smokefree.gov and the  CDC's Alcohol and Public Health Web site.

Take your medication as prescribed.
   If you're taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, please follow your healthcare practitioners instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don't understand something or need further clarification.

Lets make February the start of a new and wonderful relationship with our own hearts.  Remember, a healthy, active lifestyle is the best way to keep your heart happy and healthy.  For more information on heart disease and what you can do to improve your heart health visit www.cdc. gov orwww.heart.org.

Dr. D.

Davida J. White, M.D.
Chief Wellness Officer

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