Let Your Heart be Your Valentine

How is your heart health? February is Heart Health Month and it’s a great time to think about the many things you can do to keep your heart ticking. Your age, gender and family history play a big part in your risk for heart disease, but there are many lifestyle choices that you can make to keep your heart in the best working condition possible.
The common things we think about when it comes to heart health are:
  1. Don’t smoke. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels and carbon monoxide can damage the inner lining of those vessels.
  2. Eat a healthy diet. A diet that is high in fat, salt and cholesterol can clog arteries and cause weight problems. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure and your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  3. Get plenty of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle is not good for your heart and it can increase your risk of developing high cholesterol and/or high blood sugar. 
However, some things we don’t think about as often when it comes to heart health are:
  1. Lack of vitamin D. According to the Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center, lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for heart attacks, congestive heart failure, stroke, and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Lack of vitamin D can also cause depression which for some, may add to seasonal affective disorder during the winter months.
  2. Stress. Certain stress, in certain people, under certain circumstances appears to cause heart disease. When something goes wrong that creates long lasting stress, it can contribute to heart problems.
  3. Excessive alcohol or caffeine use. While still under study, the American Heart Association shares that there is a direct link between caffeinated soda, coffee drinking and coronary heart disease. Stick to moderation – 1 to 2 cups per day  haven’t been found harmful.
  4. Too much exercise. Findings suggest that training for and participating in activities as long as marathons and triathlons may cause heart problems in some. Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, MO believes there is little to gain from any exercise over an hour a day and it is not healthy for the heart. 
Check out this Nurse.com article about assessing long-term heart disease risk. Then take these healthy heart quizzes to discover how much you know about your health and what you need to do to stay healthy.
And make sure to come to one of our spring 9Health Fairs featuring many affordable and no-cost health screenings. The free screenings include a variety of tests such as blood pressure, vision, lung function, oral health and more. For a minimal fee, you can have your blood work done. Get your vitamin D level checked along with baseline information on cholesterol, blood glucose, liver, kidneys, thyroid and more.
The data is inside you, and the results will help you better improve your heart and your overall health. For locations and a list of screenings, go to www.9healthfair.org/findafairfor all the information you will need.
How do you keep your heart healthy? Share with us on Facebook.