By: Dr. Reggina Yandila, Adena Internal Medicine, Primary Care
Happy belated Valentine’s Day everyone!
When it comes to the month of February, what should be the first thing that comes to mind? If your answer is chocolate, that’s the wrong answer. It should be the heart and all that comes with it. So put down any leftover chocolates and let’s take a moment to talk about your heart.
Heart disease is listed as the one of the leading causes of death. It can be a silent killer for women and diabetics in general. The number of cases of heart disease are climbing and has been on the rise since 1999. Heart disease has been shown to cause just over 700,000 heart attacks each year in the U.S. The death rate for heart disease can exceed at least 600,000 or more per year in our country alone. Information from the American Heart Association, shows that 7 million Americans have had at least one heart attack in their lifespan.
Whether you are sitting or standing to read this, pay attention because this may apply to you. They are two types of risk factors. One is the uncontrollable risk factors which include males, family history of heart disease, postmenopausal women, increasing age, and race. The incidence of heart disease is higher in African-Americans, Mexican Americans, and American Indians than it is in Caucasians.
The controllable risks factors for heart disease include but are not exclusive to smoking, alcohol abuse, poor nutrition, uncontrolled cholesterol which includes high LDL levels which is the bad cholesterol or low HDL levels which is your good cholesterol, obesity, uncontrolled blood pressure, sedentary or decreased physical activity, and poorly controlled diabetes. Lastly, but not least, your mental status such as depression, high stress levels, and anger may increase the risk of heart disease.
Since we know about the risk factors, what can we do to try to prevent it or decrease the severity of a current disease process? Now while we can’t turn back time on our heart, we can try to improve from where we are now. Are you with me? For smoking and alcohol cessation there are programs available to try to motivate you to stop. Make sure you consult with your Primary Care Provider about these. Now hold on to your seats, I am going to throw some familiar words at you. They are diet and exercise which should be simply put lifestyle changes. Proper diet/nutrition can be beneficial in terms of lowering your blood pressure, lowering blood sugar levels, lowering your stress levels, lowering the number on the scale or maintaining your healthy weight. Add in exercise and you have a winning combination. Before I continue, I must remind you to please make sure you consult your doctor(s) about what nutrition/exercise is best for you. In general, we recommend that you start slow with your exercise routine. Baby steps, ladies and gentlemen, baby steps. Even if you start with exercising five minutes per day for 5-6 days per week, it’s okay. Just keep pushing. Add five minutes each week until you can reach a goal of 30-60 minutes 5-6 days weekly based on your health plans. If you are not sure what activity to do, try different ones and see which one or two stick. If you need a push, maybe look at working with a trainer, ask a friend to go with you and/or pick out your favorite tunes to jam with while you exercise. Many of us keep appointments with others for meetings, kids’ practices, etc. Schedule time on your calendars with yourself for yourself to exercise and keep it!
We only have one heart, no spares to kick in when and if we beat this one up. Today is your day to make a change or continue a streak. You can do this. There are so many people that you don’t know that are rooting for you. Make 2020 and the years to come your year! Have fun out there and take care!