February is American Heart Month. American Heart Month had its first official month dedicated back in 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson made the observance official with Proclamation 3566 on December 30, 1963. Heart disease is the leading cause of death, even more so than it was in 1964 (more than half of the population’s deaths were due to heart diseases) and it’s the #1 cause of death in women. What makes this even more tragic is that death from heart disease is largely preventable. The number of global deaths caused by heart disease is projected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030. This is why Community Care Physicians strongly encourages you to take care of your health now to prevent and detect potential heart diseases.
What is Heart Disease?
The heart is the hardest working muscle in our bodies. The heart pumps blood to the rest of the body, but without this pumping action, blood can’t move throughout the body. This makes the heart vital to your health and just about everything that goes into your body. According to the American Heart Association, in a 70-year lifespan, an average heart beats more than 2.5 billion times and pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood per day. Therefore, it is so important to take care of your heart. It’s the only one you’ve got!
The most common heart disease is coronary artery disease (also called clogged artery). It is responsible for heart attacks and is the #1 heart disease causing women’s death. Coronary Heart Disease is when plaque (a waxy substance) builds up and “clogs” the artery, which is where it gets its name, clogged artery. Arteries are vital to the heart; they supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. When the arteries become clogged or blocked, it can lead to heart attacks.
Signs and Symptoms
Many people have symptoms of strokes and heart attacks without even realizing it. Five major tell-tale signs you are experiencing a heart attack are, pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back, feeling weak, lightheaded, or faint, chest pain or discomfort, pain or discomfort in your arms or shoulders, and shortness of breath. Women might also be more likely to feel other symptoms, including unusual or unexplained tiredness, nausea, or vomiting. Five major signs you are experiencing a stroke are, sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding, trouble seeing or blurred vision in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, severe headaches with no known cause. A good way to remember this in case you or another individual is having a stroke is F.A.S.T, an acronym many healthcare professionals use. F.A.S.T stands for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties, and Time to call emergency services. If you are experiencing symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. It is also important to see your doctor regularly and let them know if you are feeling any of these symptoms so they can better gauge what the issue might be.
Who it Affects
Those at risk for heart disease are people with high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, smokers, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating patterns. Women are the majority of sufferers from heart disease. 9 out of 10 women have at least one risk factor and 1 in 5 women die from heart disease. Women over the age of 55 are more likely to suffer from heart disease, however heart disease can happen at any age because heart disease risks are occurring more and more within a younger demographic. Menopausal women are also at a higher risk, because their body’s estrogen levels drop.
How to Take Care of Your Heart
Guarding and protecting your heart isn’t as challenging as it sounds. Although, there are risk factors you can’t change, such as age, gender, and family history. The good news is there are many things you can do to help yourself!
Here are some tips on how you can strengthen your hearth and prevent cardiovascular diseases.
- Speak with your primary doctor. If you have any of the symptoms or causes of heart disease, it’s better to get checked out by a doctor to rule out heart issues.
- Get into the habit of eating healthy and exercising regularly. Try using spices when cooking instead of using salt to flavor foods.
- If you’ve been prescribed medications for health issues that can cause heart disease, make sure to take them as prescribed by your doctor.
- Exercise for at least 150 minutes per week. This can include walking or light exercise.
- Avoid smoking. If you are finding it difficult to quit, speak with your doctor about managing your smoking habits.
Remember, your doctors are there to make sure you are healthy and safe. Don’t just take care of your heart, encourage your family and friends to follow suit! Because the statistic of people in the US with heart disease is so high, chances are you or someone you know experiences symptoms without realizing it.
Go Red for Women
Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association’s signature women’s initiative, started in 2004. Go Red for Women was created to increase women’s heart health awareness and offer education on how to change or improve the lives of women globally. Many women are under the impression that heart diseases are manly an older man’s disease. This, however, is not the case, and the goal of Go Red for Women is to raise this awareness. National Wear Red Day takes place on the first Friday of every February, where everyone is strongly encouraged to wear red to show support and raise awareness for women’s heart health.
Community Care Physicians
Community Care Physicians wears "red" every day – it’s not only our color, but it’s a promise to our patients that we are dedicated to providing the best healthcare possible, including helping you take care of your heart to make sure it’s the healthiest it can be. Here at Community Care Physicians, we have several practices dedicated to helping you and your heart health.
Concierge Care Coordinator
With so many options and types of care to choose from, it can seem difficult to choose the right provider for your care needs. Let our Concierge Care Coordinator at (518) 782-3800 answer your questions and help you find the right provider based on your needs.