February brings awareness to many different causes. It is also Black History Month but for this blog, I want to focus on Heart Health. This year National Wear Red Day was celebrated on February 2. We celebrate this day on the first Friday of February to raise awareness about heart disease, which is the number one killer of women. The American Heart Association encourages everyone to wear red on this day to show support for women’s health and to save lives. One in four people will die of heart disease each year in the United States. Your heart is the hardest working organ in your body.
What is heart disease? The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease in the United States is coronary artery disease (CAD), which affects the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.
What are the symptoms of heart disease? Sometimes heart disease may be “silent” and not diagnosed until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia. When these events happen, symptoms may include.
- Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
- Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
In most cases, heart disease is preventable when people adopt a healthy lifestyle which includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, avoiding excessive alcohol use, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, and getting regular checkups. Self-care can keep your heart healthy.
The National Institutes of Health has a “healthiest self” Wellness Toolkit. Each person’s “healthiest self” is different. We all have different bodies, minds, living situations, and people influencing our lives. It addresses five areas:
- Your Surrounding. Make your environment safer and limit your exposure to potentially harmful substances.
- Your Feeling. Successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.
- Your Body. Discover which physical health habits can help decrease your stress, lower your risk of disease, and increase your energy levels.
- Your Relationships. Learn how to create positive social habits that help you stay healthier mentally and physically.
- Your Disease Defense. Take steps to protect your health and prevent diseases.
When I was fifteen years old, my grandmother on my mother’s side died of heart disease. So, I have always known this could be my future. It never scared me, but I choose to be proactive instead of reactive. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating well and staying active. I don’t always hit the mark, but the point is I give it my best shot.