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It’s National Heart Month – And It’s Not About Valentine’s Day

February is National Heart Month, and I’m not sure, but maybe this month was chosen because of Valentine’s Day. It would certainly be appropriate since one of the best ways you could show your love to your sweetheart is to get them in the habit of doing heart-healthy things − and also give them the gift of a healthier partner by adopting heart healthy practices for yourself. So, what do you mean when you say heart-healthy you might ask? I’m so glad you asked!

Heart-healthy means adopting a lifestyle that helps reduce the risk of heart disease. We’ve all heard the standard instructions doctors give to people that have suffered heart problems. Some of them are pretty restrictive depending on the type of heart problem they have suffered. A heart-healthy lifestyle is a preemptive set of actions that reduces the risk of suffering the heart problem in the first place. It consists of:

  • Getting Enough Sleep
  • Eating Better
  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight
  • Becoming More Active
  • Stopping Smoking

You can click here to find more details about a heart-healthy lifestyle, including all the hints/guidelines/tips/instructions/etc. Adopting this lifestyle will not only help your heart but almost every facet of your health. There are two parts of this lifestyle that I found especially interesting.

Under the Eating Better Heading, there is link to a special eating plan called the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH). Having had some experience just recently with high blood pressure, which is usually classified as hypertension, this DASH approach caught my eye. I would like to control my mild blood pressure problem through changing my lifestyle and, with the guidance of my doctor, would like to attempt to lower my blood pressure without the use of prescription drugs. It takes commitment, and I’m not going to take any chances with my blood pressure. I figure it will be worth the attempt.

The other thing that jumped out was under the Be More Active heading, the fact sheet made the following statement:

“If you don’t have a lot of time in your day, try being active for 10 minutes at a time. Anything that gets your heart beating faster counts!”

I was amazed at the fact that only ten minutes could help. It dawned on me that somehow, I could extract ten minutes from watching YouTube funny animal videos to get my heart rate elevated.

The focus of the American Heart Association (it’s their 100th birthday this year) for National Heart Month is CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Sarah Fedele with the American Heart Association (AHA) says American Heart Month is about raising awareness and educating people about heart health.

“During our 100th anniversary, [we’re] about learning CPR. So, we call it our nation of lifesavers, and it’s really encouraging everyone, whether you’re a family, whether you’re a company, to really just take the time to learn hands-on CPR,” Fedele said. “Because a lot of the lives that you may save is actually someone that’s close to you, so, either a coworker or a family member.”

She says some of the common warning signs of heart disease include pressure, heaviness, or pain in the chest. But they can also include pain or numbness in the arms, nausea, extreme fatigue, or shortness of breath. The warning signs may be different in women, where they can also include random pain and general fatigue, according to Fedele.

I’ve never taken a CPR course, and it’s always been in the back of my mind that I should know how to do it. According to the AHA there are some simple ways to learn the basics of CPR. They said, “You never know when you’ll need to save a life. With Faster, Flexible and Quality CPR & First Aid Training, the American Heart Association can help make sure you are ready with a variety of courses designed to prepare you for real life situations”. They offer the simple videos: 2 Steps to Save a Life with Hands-Only CPR and a guide to learn about how to use an AED with Hands-Only CPR + AED. It could help you save a life.

The short 2 steps to Save a Life video shows the simple steps to perform the hands-only CPR, and it gave me the confidence that, at least, I could take some proactive steps in a heart emergency. I even think I could perform the hands-only CPR + AED actions. I’ve seen notices posted in many public places that AEDs are available which raises the chance that you could save a person’s life. This focus by the AHA has given me some real important information.

There is one other thing that caught my eye as I reviewed heart information: heart murmurs. My doctor commented the last time I visited him that I had a nice little murmur. Well, I was of the belief that no murmur was a nice murmur, but he said that it is really common in older people, and there was nothing to worry about. I did some digging this week and found that one in three older people have some sort of murmur that is caused by the decreased flexibility in most parts of the circulation system. I will still stay vigilant on this front but maybe if I stay focused on living a more heart-healthy lifestyle, it will help in this area also.

Take some time this month to do your own research, consider your own situation, your family’s history, and your health to determine what your risk factors are and what you can do to lower your risk. Maybe set aside some time on Valentine’s Day to focus on your heart and the heart of your sweetheart.

Best, Thair



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