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Prioritizing Your Heart’s Health

Updated: Oct 19, 2021

What we treasure most about our loved ones are their hearts. It is important to prioritize keeping their hearts healthy to help ensure a long, happy life. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Heart disease is commonly thought of as a man’s disease, but it can equally affect women.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in four American deaths are due to heart disease. Because the risk of heart disease increases as our loved ones grow older, it’s important to be aware of the contributing factors that affect one’s chances of heart disease.

The factors include:

  • A diet high in sodium, trans fats, and saturated fats

  • Drinking an excess amount of alcohol

  • Tobacco usage

  • A lack of regular exercise

  • Obesity

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Family history

There are steps you can take to help your loved ones prevent heart disease, but it is also important to know the warning signs of a heart attack in case one was to ever occur. This enables loved ones to be attended to right away and given the care they need.

Warning signs can be:

  • Chest pain, pressure, or any kind of discomfort

  • Pain or discomfort in the arms, neck, back, jaw, or stomach

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

  • Lightheadedness

  • Cold sweats

The most common heart attack symptom is chest pain. Women, however, are more likely to experience symptoms such as shortness of breath, back/jaw pain, and nausea than men.

So, what do you do if your loved one is having a heart attack? The Heart Foundation urges you to call 911 as soon as possible. It is better to be safe than sorry in these circumstances. Acting fast can save someone’s life. Calling 911 as soon as your loved one starts to show or experience warning signs helps them to get the treatment they need as fast as possible.

Ways to Help Prevent & Decrease the Risk of Heart Disease

Exercising daily or every other day can help maintain a healthy weight, reducing the risk of heart disease. Exercising can be as simple as going on a daily walk. Anything is acceptable as long as they are moving and getting their blood flowing and heart pumping!

A healthy diet is key to keeping your loved ones’ hearts healthy. Make sure they are limiting their intake of fatty and fried foods. They should also stay away from foods that are high in sodium, since sodium can prevent blood flow. Encourage them to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Healthy fats, such as non-saturated fats, should also be encouraged and can be found in nuts and oily fish like salmon and trout.

Another way to stay on top of their heart health is making sure it is being treated properly and assessed regularly. Catching medical issues early prevents them from turning into potential risk factors for heart diseases. But if medical conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure are already present, they can be maintained with the right medication and lifestyle changes.

Limit Tobacco Usage & Alcohol Consumption

Doing these two things can really be very beneficial when trying to decrease the risk of heart disease. Smoking cigarettes damages heart and blood vessels. Even second-hand smoke can be damaging and should be avoided at all costs. The nicotine in cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and other tobacco products raises blood pressure, which can cause heart disease. Finally, too much alcohol increases triglyceride levels, leading to the hardening and thickening of the artery walls. When this happens, the blood can’t flow through the arteries, increasing the risk of a stroke or a heart attack. All of these are contributing factors to heart disease. Avoiding both tobacco and alcohol as much as possible will positively impact the health of loved ones’ hearts!

Their heart is what makes our loved ones who they are, and it’s important to try and protect and keep their heart as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Knowing the contributing factors and the warning signs of heart disease ensures that we are prepared to care for them in the way they need when they need it.

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