February - National Heart Health Awareness Month
Lovers rejoice, February is here, and while romance is on the mind of many, the heart is the true superstar of this shortest month. You may already be aware that February is national heart health awareness month, but we here at Noble Companion believe that such a special organ deserves all the special attention it can get, so this month we’re going to explore some facts about the heart in order to keep ours healthy, and open to all the love and companionship this winter month has to give!
Heart Health Factors
Looking at the numbers, heart disease is tragically the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and there are numerous risk factors to be aware of which could affect your chance of developing heart disease.
1.) Genetics – Take time to talk with immediate relatives about their history of heart disease and if they know of anyone in your family who has suffered cardiac complications in the past. These genetic histories will give you a better idea of your chances of experiencing a similar event in your lifetime. Luckily, knowing your family history with heart disease can allow you to make proactive decisions that can aid in lowering your risk of suffering a heart issue in your own life.
2.) Tobacco and Alcohol – By this time, most everybody knows the endless list of negative side effects that accompany a smoking habit, but more recently it has come to light that alcohol, (Of any kind and in any quantity), has notable negative effects on the heart as well. While it was once thought to be just fine to have a drink or two each day, science is now coming to understand that there is no safe amount of alcohol to consume, so if heart disease is a factor in your life or something on your radar, it would behoove you greatly to think about cutting alcohol out of your life for good. Quitting alcohol and smoking not only benefits you on a health level, but the positive effects extend to social life, financial stability, and a sense of pride in accomplishment too.
3.) Diet – One of, (if not the), most glaring causes of heart disease is diet. In this fast-paced day and age, it can seem difficult to find the time to prepare heart healthy food, but doing so is likely to buy you time in the long run, as recovery from heart complications can be lifelong; with that in mind, taking the time to skip the drive through and go to the supermarket can seem like a beneficial trade off.
Though there are hundreds of risk factors which should be considered when thinking about heart health, there are also numerous methods of prevention and maintenance that can be put into practice to improve heart health and aid in keeping you healthy for years to come.
1.) Exercise – Getting up and moving can be a tough habit to get started, (especially in the winter months when the weather is bad), but the health benefits of doing so are massive. Not only does exercise improve mental and physical health, but it can also improve social well-being. Utilize a Companion or find a group exercise that works for you! Things like hiking, indoor swimming, yoga, and walking clubs are all excellent ways to keep your heart healthy while also opening it up to new people.
2.) Regular visits to the doctor – Making and keeping an appointment to get a yearly physical will help ensure your heart and body are in good working order. Not scheduling yearly doctor visits might seem like an option if you don’t have a chronic health condition, but prevention is always the best method of staying ahead of health issues in the future.
3.) Diet – While diet is a leading cause of heart disease, it is also a leading method of prevention and maintenance for heart health. Avoiding foods that are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fats is a good starting place for a heart healthy diet, and including foods in the fruit, vegetable, and whole grain categories is a smart move for maintaining a heart healthy diet.
So, while the winter weather is upon us, and love is on the mind, don’t forget to take some time aside to love yourself and your heart by making heart healthy choices in all facets of your daily life.