February is National Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention). About 610,000 people die from this condition each year.
Heart disease encompasses a wide range of cardiovascular problems. Several diseases and conditions fall under the umbrella of heart disease:
Arrhythmia – a heat rhythm abnormality. The symptoms you experience may depend on the type of arrhythmia you have – heartbeats that are too fast or slow. Symptoms include: lightheadedness; fluttering heart or racing heartbeat; slow pulse; fainting spells; dizziness or chest pain.
Atherosclerosis – hardening of arteries reducing blood supply. In addition to chest pain and shortness of breath, symptoms may also include: coldness and numbness especially in the limbs & unusual or unexplained pain and weakness in your legs and arms.
Cardiomyopathy – the heart muscles harden and grow weak. Symptoms include: fatigue; bloating; swollen legs, especially ankles and feet; shortness of breath & pounding or rapid pulse.
Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) - the buildup of plaque in the heart’s arteries that move oxygen-rich blood through the heart and lungs. Symptoms include: chest pain or discomfort; a feeling of pressure or squeezing in the chest; shortness of breath; nausea & feelings of indigestion or gas.
There are risk factors of heart disease that you cannot control such as: family history; ethnicity; sex & age. But it is still important to lower your chance of developing heart disease by decreasing the risk factors that you can control.
The risk factors that you can control are: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; smoking; obesity & physical inactivity.
People with diabetes may also be at higher risk for heart disease because high blood glucose levels increase the risk of: angina, heart attack, stroke & CAD. If you have diabetes it is essential to control your glucose to limit your risk from developing heart disease. The American Heart Association reports that people who have both high blood pressure and diabetes double their risk for cardiovascular disease.
While heart disease can be deadly, it’s also preventable in most people. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits early, you can potentially live longer with a healthier heart.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help you treat the condition and prevent it from getting worse.
A low-sodium, low-fat diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables
Getting regular exercise
Reduce alcohol consumption
Taking medications as prescribed
Aim for healthy blood pressure and cholesterol numbers
Manage your stress-speak with your doctor if you are frequently overwhelmed, anxious or are coping with stressful events
Instead of thinking about resolutions this New Year, let’s think about changing habits. Changing your habits on purpose is one of the most rewarding and enlightening things you can do for yourself. If you program behaviors as new habits you can take out the entire struggle.
Habits are hard to break. It takes time and effort to install new systems in your life. But, once established, they become effortless as they become part of your life.
If you want to change a habit and make an everlasting change the first thing to do is have a firm belief in yourself, what you can achieve and the success of your desires. Write down all the things you’ll no longer accept or tolerate and all the things you want to become and achieve.
Every new habit needs a strategy, a plan that helps you reach your goals, a way to give yourself the structure that will help you succeed.
Set up a timeline and be specific
Commit to thirty to sixty days
Discipline and consistency are critical if you want to make the habit stick
Don’t try to completely change your life in one day, start simple
If you are ending a behavior find something specific to do in its place
Remove temptation; restructure your environment so you won’t be tempted
Keeping a journal is a good way to keep track of your progress
If you get off track, get right back on, forgive yourself and move forward
Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out - Robert Collier
Though no one can go back and make a brand-new start, anyone can start from now and make it a brand-new ending – Carl Bard
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) class at Trinity on Saturday, January 12, 2019, at 9 AM. For more information or to sign up, call Kathy Burda at 570-621-3220.