Healthy Heart Awareness
February is American Heart Health Month and during this month we will be spreading awareness on the importance of keeping your heart healthy. The heart is the most important part of the body so it is key to keep it healthy and functioning. The heart pumps blood all throughout the body as well as delivering nutrients, oxygen, hormones which all support the function of the human body. There are many ways to keep your heart healthy such as eating nutritious foods, exercising frequently, managing stress and completing yearly heart screenings.
Check out a few tips below on how you can take extra care of your heart health and spread awareness!
Stress can cause anything from physical, to emotional, to psychological strain on a someone’s body. It is crucial to keep stress levels under control so that there are not any health issues that follow. There are different ways to prevent or reduce stress, including:
- Plan ahead: use a planner to house all of your important appointments, meetings, outings, and other deadlines.
- Prioritize your tasks in terms of urgency. What tasks absolutely need to be done in this moment? Which tasks can wait until later in the afternoon or tomorrow?
- Prepare for stressful events. Working on an important project? Put the actual deadline in your planner and give yourself a test deadline. Aim to complete your important project by the test deadline so you have enough time to complete any necessary edits.
Sometimes you cannot avoid stress, here are a few tips on how to manage it:
- Be aware of your stress levels. Do you feel tense in your jaw, neck, or back? These are usually the first few physical signs that stress is upon you.
- Take time to relax. Listen to calming music, take a bath, or express yourself through writing in a journal. The possibilities are endless and different for everyone.
- Get active and eat healthy. Getting active increases the production of endorphins that work as your brain’s feel good neurotransmitters, thus improving your mood. Eating healthy helps provide your body with the fuel needed to work through the negative effects of stress.
- Finding solutions to problems you are having. When you are faced with a hard situation, it’s the unknown that frightens you and stresses you out. Brainstorming a solution will help you have a clear mind and a clear path to move forward.
- Talking to friends and family. Having someone to talk to about a stressful situation can help you see things through a new lens, brainstorm solutions, and even just get the weight of the situation off you.
Importance of Screenings
Heart health screenings provide awareness and a greater understanding of your personal health risks. Outlined below are a few different recommended screenings to keep your heart healthy.
- Blood Pressure. Because high blood pressure has no symptoms, blood pressure is the most important cardiovascular screening. Typically, your blood pressure should be below 120/80 mmHg.
- Fasting Lipoprotein Profile (cholesterol). The blood test measures your total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.
- Total cholesterol ideally should be below 200 mg/dL
- LDL cholesterol ideally should be below 100 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol ideally should be at or higher than 60 mg/dL
- Body weight. Sometimes your doctor may want to take a waist measurement or use your body weight to calculate your body mass index (BMI). These measurements are then used to determine your risk for heart disease.
- Blood glucose. High blood sugar can increase your risk for insulin resistance, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes. Should high blood sugar go untreated it can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Smoking. If you are a current tobacco-user, speak with your doctor about quitting tobacco and showing your heart some love.
Here are a few additional resources below that can be used to raise awareness and help promote the importance of a heart healthy lifestyle!
- CDC Heart Health Toolkit
- American Heart Association Healthy Living
- National Heart Lung & Blood Institute Toolkit
Health Designs is also here to help! Reach out to learn more about screenings available to support heart health!