Did you know that February is National Heart Disease Awareness Month? How about did you know that February is National Wear Red day; what that means is this day is designated to bring awareness to Heart Disease, especially in women, so we wear red to recognize it. It’s pretty similar to wearing pink in October (Breast Cancer) , or blue in April (Autism).
Most of the time, people will assume that Heart Disease is for the person next to you, or the person you met last year. However, heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S. About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; more than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.* Heart Disease can be known as the “Silent Killer” in women; In fact, in the United States, 1 in 4 women dies from heart disease.**
*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2013
**National Heart and Lung Institute, 2011
The most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called Coronary Artery Disease and happens slowly over time; this is the most common form of heart disease in the United states. You can greatly reduce your risk for CAD through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. In some cases, if CAD is not monitored or taken care of, it can eventually lead to a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked by a blood clot. If this clot cuts off the blood flow completely, the part of the heart muscle supplied by that artery begins to die.
Other Types of Cardiovascular Disease:
Heart failure: This doesn’t mean that the heart stops beating. Heart failure, sometimes called Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) , means the heart isn’t pumping blood as well as it should. The heart keeps working, but the body’s need for blood and oxygen isn’t being met. Heart failure can get worse if it’s not treated.
Arrhythmia: This is an abnormal rhythm of the heart; there are numerous types of arrhythmias. The heart can beat too slow, too fast or irregularly. Bradycardia is when the heart rate is less than 60 beats per minute; Tachycardia is when the heart rate is more than 100 beats per minute. An arrhythmia can affect how well the heart works. The heart may not be able to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
Heart valve problems: When heart valves don’t open enough to allow the blood to flow through as it should, it’s called Stenosis. When the heart valves don’t close properly and allow blood to leak through, it’s called Regurgitation. When the valve leaflets bulge or prolapse back into the upper chamber, it’s a condition called Mitral Valve Prolapse.*
*American Heart Association, 2011.
Do not fret, there are ways to reduce your risk of Heart Disease! According to Mayo Clinic (not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group), there are a few extra things you can make sure to control and monitor to help reduce your chances of heart disease.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco
- Exercise for 30 minutes on most days of the week (at a pace that works best for you; something is always better than nothing.)
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get Regular Health Screenings
You may ask, what is a “heart-healthy” diet, well, I’m here to give you some tips.
- Control your portion size
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Select whole grains
- Limit unhealthy fats and cholesterol
- Choose low-fat protein sources
- Reduce the sodium in your food
- Plan ahead: create daily menus
- Allow yourself an occasional treat*
*Mayo Clinic, 2012
Do your part to spread awareness about heart disease and remember to do what you can to reduce your risk. We love your hearts just as much as you do. If you have questions about CAD or CHF, or any other health questions, feel free to contact Hands of Compassion Homecare in Midland, TX for your answers. We are the “Healthcare that unites hands with hearts. ” Take care of yours, if you need a little extra help, we want to be there for you.