Did you know that February is American Heart Month? “Cardiovascular disease —including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States” (according to the CDC). According to the American Heart Association, heart disease causes 1 in 3 deaths each year, approximately one woman every minute!
February has become a reminder of why it is so important to take care of your heart. It’s the only one you have!
Heart disease is an important topic to me because it runs in my family. Actually, both of my grandfather’s experienced heart disease and my mom has suffered with high blood pressure for many years. I, on the other hand have low blood pressure, but have experienced a racing heart rate and chest pains many times over the past 10 years. These symptoms have led me to visit doctors and cardiologists a time or two.
When it comes to women and heart disease, “90 percent of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease” and “since 1984, more women than men have died each year from heart disease.” This statistic always surprises me because I used to equate heart attacks as a problem mainly for men.
In addition to women having risk factors for developing heart disease, their symptoms of heart disease can be misunderstood and often different from men.
Some symptoms to be aware of are:
- Shortness of breath
- Back pain
- Jaw pain
- Nausea, or flu-like symptoms
- Pain in your arm
The Different Forms of Heart Disease
Heart disease affects the blood vessels and cardiovascular system which can result in numerous problems, such as:
- Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
- Heart failure or congestive heart failure
- Arrhythmia or an abnormal rhythm of the heart
- Heart valve problems
What are Some Ways You Can Take Care of Your Heart Health?
According to a study conducted at the Karolinska Institute, engaging in five healthy lifestyle habits could prevent nearly 80 percent of first-time heart attacks in men. They noted:
“It is not surprising that healthy lifestyle choices would lead to a reduction in heart attacks… What is surprising is how drastically the risk dropped due to these factors.”
In addition, the 2004 INTERHEART study “found that 90 percent of heart disease cases are completely preventable by modifying diet and lifestyle factors.”
I happen to agree with Dr. Mercola that “contrary to popular belief, refined carbs, sugar, and processed foods are the real enemy—not the saturated fats found in foods such as butter, lard, or eggs.”
From doctors whom I have heard speak on this topic, cholesterol is not always the enemy. We actually need some cholesterol. Look at what has happened since the low-fat craze hit the market (which I grew up with). Obesity and heart disease have risen dramatically.
Dr. Mercola recommends the following for heart health:
- Avoid sugar, processed fructose, and grains. (This effectively means you must avoid most processed foods).
- Eat a healthy diet of whole foods, ideally organic, and replace the grain carbs
- Consume high-quality healthy fat
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid excess sitting
- Optimize Vitamin D levels
- Manage your stress daily
Be sure to take these heart health tips to heart during February and all year round!
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