We observe American Heart Month in february to raise awareness on the importance of a healthy heart and to encourage healthy habits that help reduce the risk of heart disease.
High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of people in the United States (47%) have at least one of these three risk factors.
Over time, high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart. People with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease:
High blood pressure increases the force of blood through your arteries and can damage artery walls. Having both high blood pressure and diabetes can greatly increase your risk for heart disease.
Too much LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your bloodstream can form plaque on damaged artery walls.
High triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is thought to contribute to hardening of the arteries. High blood pressure increases the force of blood through your arteries and can damage artery walls. Having both high blood pressure and diabetes can greatly increase your risk for heart disease. Too much LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in your bloodstream can form plaque on damaged artery walls. High triglycerides (a type of fat in your blood) and low HDL (“good”) cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is thought to contribute to hardening of the arteries.
One in five heart attacks occurs without the person even knowing they had one.
Women may experience different symptoms than men. These include pain in the back, arm, neck, shoulder. As well as, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and vomiting.
Women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to die of a heart attack as men in the same age group.
Heart attacks are more likely to occur on Monday mornings than other days of the week. Scientists attribute this to the disruption in our circadian rhythm over the weekend which leads to increased blood pressure and other changes to the nervous system.
These lifestyle changes can help lower your risk for heart disease or keep it from getting worse, as well as help you manage diabetes.
Follow a healthy diet. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Eat fewer processed foods (such as chips, sweets, and fast food) and avoid trans-fat. Drink more water, fewer sugary drinks, and less alcohol.
Aim for a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, losing even a modest amount of weight can lower your triglycerides and blood sugar. Modest weight loss means 5% to 7% of body weight, just 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person.
Get active. Being physically active makes your body more sensitive to insulin (the hormone that allows cells in your body to use blood sugar for energy), which helps manage your diabetes. Physical activity also helps control blood sugar levels and lowers your risk of heart disease. Try to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking.
A: Get a regular A1C test to measure your average blood sugar over 2 to 3 months; aim to stay in your target range as much as possible.
B: Try to keep your blood pressure below 140/90 mm Hg (or the target your doctor sets).
C: Manage your cholesterol levels.
D: Stop smoking or don’t start.
E: Manage stress. Stress can raise your blood pressure and can also lead to unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking too much alcohol or overeating. Instead, visit a mental health counselor, try meditation or deep breathing, get some physical activity, or get support from friends and family.