In February 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed the first American Heart Month in hopes to raise awareness for cardiovascular health across the country. The federally designated event promotes understanding healthy heart practices and encourages involving your own friends, family, and community.
5 Basic Facts About Heart Disease
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the US. Fortunately, with the right amount of knowledge, it’s highly preventable.
- The term “heart disease” is actually a broad description of several different heart conditions with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) as the most common.
- The most prevalent symptoms of heart disease are heart attack, arrhythmia (chest palpitations), and heart failure.
- A staggering 47% of Americans carry 1 of 3 large risk factors to contracting heart disease which are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking.
- Prevention of these risk factors, conditions, and symptoms begin with healthy living. Eating well, exercising regularly, and choosing an overall healthier lifestyle (no smoking, moderation with alcohol) are all integral to keeping your heart happy and healthy.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have been diagnosed with heart failure it does not mean your heart has stopped working. It is diagnosed when your heart is not properly pumping blood to the rest of your body. This results in your blood collecting in unnecessary places such as your lungs, depriving your body of the oxygen-rich blood it needs. Symptoms include:
- Chest pain or tightness.
- Shortness of breath either at rest or when exercising.
- Swelling in the feet, legs, or stomach.
- Long-term cough or coughing up blood.
- Easily fatigued.
- Sudden weight gain.
- Needing to sit up or use extra pillows to sleep.
Actively Promoting a Healthy Heart
Making certain lifestyle changes can reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life. Making these changes will lower your risk of heart failure and should be addressed if you have been diagnosed with heart disease. These changes include:
- Smoking cessation.
- Staying at a healthy weight.
- Avoiding drugs and alcohol.
- Exercising within your doctor’s guidelines.
- Getting a flu shot every year and avoiding colds.
Some ways you can help manage your heart disease are taking medications on time, shopping for healthy foods, preparing heart-healthy meals, exercising, and visiting your doctor regularly.
Working With Your Healthcare Provider
Working collaboratively with your healthcare providers means you must communicate openly with them. Here are some suggested questions to ask at your next doctor visit:
- What foods should I avoid eating?
- Are there any activities that I should limit or eliminate?
- What type and amount of exercise is best for me?
- What side effects should I expect from my medications?
- Are there alternatives if I experience side effects from my medications?
- Can you explain the test I need?
- What should I do if I forget to take my medications?
Raising heart health awareness in your household and community this month is key. Connect with us at discoverhealthadvocacy.com for more ways to continue keeping your heart healthy and happy.