Author: Jennifer Abfalter, MA, APRN, CNS
Co-author: Julibeth Lauren, PhD, APRN, CNS
February is National Heart Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness on how to prevent heart disease. The Centers for Disease Control continues to list heart related conditions as the leading cause of death in the U.S. with over 610,000 American lives lost each year to heart disease. There are steps we can take to prevent heart diseases.
Heart disease is a group of conditions that affects the heart and blood vessels. There are many types of heart disease, and one of the most common is coronary heart disease. Left untreated, coronary heart disease can cause a heart attack.
A heart attack occurs when the heart does not get enough blood, most often because of a blocked blood vessel. The narrowing of a blood vessel, or atherosclerosis, is caused from a buildup of fat and other deposits along the wall of the blood vessel. These blockages can build over time, and if caught early a heart attack can be prevented.
Heart disease affects people from all backgrounds and ages. In the United States, heart disease is also the leading cause of death for both men and women.
According to the CDC, A heart attack is an emergency, and in America this happens every 42 seconds. There are similar statistics in other countries around the world and the number of heart attacks continue to increase in low income countries.
The risk factors for coronary heart disease are common; in fact, almost half of Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors, which are smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Other risk factors include: diabetes, being overweight, eating an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol use. Reducing your risk factors is one way to prevent and treat heart disease. It’s never too early to think about heart health. Children and young adults can participate in family activities and healthy meal preparation, and learn habits that will last a lifetime.
Here is a list of things you can do to take good care of your heart:
- Eat a heart healthy diet. This includes limiting unhealthy fats, and eating lots of plant based foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
- Do not use tobacco products, including cigarettes, chewing tobacco and electronic cigarettes. If you do use tobacco, talk with a specialist about the best way to quit.
- Talk with your doctor about your risk for heart disease. Some people are at higher risk, due to family history, age or other factors. You may benefit from treatments to prevent heart disease.
- Have your blood pressure checked, a normal blood pressure for adults is a systolic (top number) less than 120 and diastolic (bottom number) less than 80.
- Have your cholesterol checked, and talk with your doctor about what the results mean.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for nonpregnant women and 2 drinks a day for men. One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1½ oz of hard liquor.
- Staying active is good for your heart. Try to exercise every day of the week, if you are new to exercise start slowly and include activity in your everyday routine.
- Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Spend time doing things you enjoy, such as listening to music, being outdoors, or other hobbies. Taking good care of your emotions is good for your heart.
You can find plenty of heart education resources at Elsevier Interactive Patient Engagement.
A sample of Elsevier Patient Engagement Text and Video:
|Heart Disease Prevention
|Cardiovascular, Heart Disease, Anatomy, The Healthy Heart|
|Steps to Quit Smoking|
|Stress and Stress Management||Cardiovascular, Heart Disease, Diagnosis, Atherosclerosis|
|Heart Healthy Eating Plan||Cardiovascular, Heart Disease, Diagnosis, Coronary Artery Disease|
|Physical Activity with Heart Disease||Cardiovascular, Heart Disease, Diagnosis, Heart Attack (Myocardial Infarction)|
|Heart Attack||Cardiovascular, Heart Disease, Lifestyle Modification, Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease|
|Cholesterol||Cardiovascular, Heart Disease, Lifestyle Modification, Nutrition|
|Hypertension||Cardiovascular, Heart Disease, Lifestyle Modification, Physical Activity|
To find out more about Elsevier Patient Engagement visit ElsevierPatientEngagement.com
The Worldwide State of Cardiovascular Disease from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2013.02.004
Heart Disease Fact Sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_heart_disease.htm