American Heart Month: Keeping a Healthy Heart

February is the month of the heart. For instance, Valentine’s Day has long been symbolized by the cartoon caricature of a heart in order to represent love. However, we all know the heart is much more complicated than what we see kids draw on the their Valentine’s Day cards. It’s a complicated organ that helps move blood throughout our entire body, and it never stops working. It’s 2nd most important organ next to the brain. That’s why, this February, for American Heart Month, you should do your best to help your heart and the heart of a senior loved one. Cardiovascular disease is THE number one killer of men and women in the United States. Here’s how we can lower that number!

Watch Your Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a waxy, fatty substance that your body actually needs. There’s a lot of negativity that surrounds the word cholesterol, however it’s important in maintaining the fluidity of your cells in your body. That being said, too much of anything is never good. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), over 71 million Americans have high cholesterol, and only 1 out of 3 people have it under control. This is due to the fact that there are no symptoms of high cholesterol. This leads to a high number of people with heart disease and strokes. Here’s how to lower your risk:

  • Get a checkup once a year – Your doctor will be able to run various tests in order to determine if you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases.
  • Get your cholesterol checked – Your doctor will be able to perform simple blood tests in order to determine if your cholesterol is too high or at the right amount.

From there your doctor will know the next steps. That can be anything from changing your diet to encouraging more exercise.

Watch Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a lot like having high cholesterol and the two often go hand-in-hand. Again, there are no symptoms of having high blood pressure which results in a lot of people having it without knowing. Luckily, checking your blood pressure is a painless procedure that can be done anywhere including; your doctor’s office, the pharmacy, or even at home if you have the right equipment.

If you do choose to monitor your blood pressure at home, there are a few numbers to understand. The first number is the systolic number. It’s the pressure applied to the artery walls when the heart beats. The second number is the diastolic number. This measures the pressure against the artery walls in between beats of the heart. According to the CDC a normal number for normal blood pressure is 120/80. Anything over that and you or a senior loved one might have prehypertension or in layman’s terms high potential for high blood pressure.

If you do notice that a senior loved one has potentially high blood pressure, a few changes need to be made. It can be something as simple as reducing their sodium intake, changing their entire diet, or exercising 30 minutes a day everyday. These things are helpful in dealing with blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart health in general.

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