National Heart Month 2022
We all know that a healthy heart is important, but how many of us truly understand how to keep this amazing organ in great condition, particularly into older age?
Each year, more than 600,000 people in the USA die from heart disease. Ischemic heart disease on its own, accounts for nearly 16% of all deaths around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
What Is the Aim of National Heart Month?
A normal heart at rest will beat around 60 to 90 times a minute and it’s essentially a huge muscle that pumps oxygenated blood around the body. National Heart Month is all about raising awareness about cardiovascular disease and how to maintain a healthy heart, even into later life.
There are social media conversations and groups to get involved with as well as local events and plenty of online information. The month involves a range of activities and information which people can use to make better choices.
That includes ensuring they get an early check-up and the things they can do to reduce their chance of developing heart disease in the first place.
When Is National Heart Month?
National Heart Month takes place during February each year and has been running for over half a century.
Understanding Heart Health and Cardiovascular Related Diseases
Cardiovascular disease covers a wide range of conditions that affect the heart and arteries. It includes abnormal heart rhythms, thrombosis, heart attack and coronary artery disease.
People are at risk of developing heart conditions if they have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or suffer from a condition such as diabetes. Other risk factors include smoking, drinking too much, little or no physical activity and poor diet.
The risk of developing heart disease increases as we get older and a family history of health problems can also mean we develop issues in later life.
The good news is there is a lot an individual can do to reduce their probability of developing heart problems in later life. Implementing these can make a huge difference, whatever age you decide to make your lifestyle changes.
1. A Good Diet
The biggest change an individual can make is to switch to a healthy diet. That means cutting out foods that are high in sugar and salt, particularly highly processed products. This includes sugary drinks and widely available treats such as biscuits, cake and chocolate.
Eating fresh fruit and vegetables, getting plenty of fiber in the diet and eating meat in moderation makes a massive difference.
2. Exercise Regularly
In addition to healthy eating, regular exercise also reduces the risk of developing something like coronary artery disease. Exercise can be anything from lifting weights and running to walking or kicking a ball in the park.
Recommended guidelines often suggest that around 150 minutes of moderate exercise (where you get slightly out of breath) should be performed each week.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Exercise and diet can help maintain a healthy weight. The less fat people are carrying, the more likely their heart is to be healthy. People should avoid overeating and keep track of their weight to ensure that their BMI stays within healthy boundaries.
4. Stop Smoking and Don’t Drink Too Much
Smoking not only greatly increases the risk of developing lung cancer, but it also damages the heart and the arteries. The various chemicals in cigarette smoke and chewing tobacco can thicken the blood and make it more likely that a clot will develop.
Drinking too much also has an impact on arterial and heart health as well as damaging organs such as the liver. Reducing alcohol and completely stopping smoking greatly decreases the risk of having a serious heart problem.
5. Keep Control of Cholesterol and Blood Pressure
Two of the major factors in developing heart disease are high cholesterol and high blood pressure. These are inextricably linked to both diet and exercise. Obesity, not undertaking enough exercise and drinking and smoking too much have all been shown to greatly increase bad cholesterol levels.
6. Reduce Stress
Chronic stress is a major health issue in modern society. People in high-pressure jobs or who have difficulty coping in life are more likely to develop heart problems. Finding ways to reduce stress levels through exercise, meditation and a better work-life balance can make a huge difference.
Functional Medicine - The Miskawaan Way
The functional medicine approach to healthcare and the approach which is integral to Miskawaan Health’s treatment philosophy, looks to address the root causes of each medical issue, rather than solely relying on techniques to combat any associated symptoms.
When it comes to treating individuals with cardiovascular health conditions, it’s essential to identify and address the aforementioned underlying issues, such as high blood pressure, poor diet and lack of exercise, that the patient may potentially be affected by.
How to Get Involved with National Heart Month
There are lots of different ways to get involved in National Heart Month. The CDC has a wide range of resources and information available about heart health for physicians, researchers and the public that can easily be downloaded and shared with friends.
There are also ways to connect online with social media through hashtags such as #heartmonth where people can learn a lot from others and find out about local events that are taking place.