Matters Of The (Healthy) Heart
From the February 2021 ALTRUM Dealers Flyer
In the past, I have kept this Blog focused primarily on lubrication and vehicle related posts. While that will continue to be my main focus, starting today you will occasionally see something totally unrelated to the normal postings. I am starting with this post on Heart Health which is important for everyone. While I’m not a “Health Nut,” I do try to take care of myself, the concept of which took a long time to penetrate this thick Irish skull.
February is National Heart Month, bringing important awareness on reducing the risk of heart disease and complications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, killing more than 600,000 Americans each year. It doesn’t have to be this way; there are things we can do to lower risk factors and improve overall heart health.
The human heart is responsible for carrying blood and oxygen throughout the body while removing toxins and waste. It beats approximately 115,000 times each day and up to 2.5 billion times over the course of an average lifetime. The heart is a constantly working muscle with four chambers. The two upper chambers are called the right atria and left atria, which receive incoming blood. The two lower chambers are called the right ventricle and left ventricle and pump the blood out. Working in conjunction with these four chambers are four valves that serve to keep blood flowing in the right direction into arteries and veins.
Problems arise when medical conditions or lifestyle choices interfere with or block these functions. Things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking are known to be leading causes of coronary artery disease, heart attack or heart failure. Family history can also increase the risk factor. While the risk of heart disease cannot be eliminated entirely, there are preventive measures available to help mitigate the danger. Here are some heart-healthy tips to help protect against the key risks associated with heart disease.
Know Your Numbers
Knowing your overall blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and how they impact your heart health, is imperative to identifying any potential increased risk. Speak with your doctor about family medical history and get your levels checked. The American Heart Association (AHA) provides the following chart for healthy cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure levels:
- Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL
- HDL (good) cholesterol 50 mg/dL or higher
- LDL (bad) cholesterol less than 100 mg/dL
- Triglycerides 150 mg/dL
- Blood pressure less than 130/80 mm Hg
Keeping an active lifestyle will help ward off coronary artery disease and reduce the risk of a heart attack. Exercise helps your heart work more efficiently while reducing blood pressure, raising ‘good’ HDL cholesterol and decreasing the tendency for blood clotting. Walking just 30 minutes per day can reap many rewards for your heart. If you don’t already have an exercise routine in place, build upon a daily walk as a starting point to better health.
Your diet plays a major role in your heart health. What you eat influences cholesterol levels, triglycerides and even blood pressure, in turn directly impacting your heart functions. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens deliver a great source of vitamin K, which protects your arteries and promotes proper blood clotting. Whole grains are high in fiber and can help reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Berries are rich in antioxidants that can help protect against oxidative stress and inflammation that can contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease. Blueberries have been shown to help improve the function of cells that line blood vessels, also helping to control blood pressure and clotting.
Look for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and walnuts. From the FDA: “Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
Manage Your Weight
People who are overweight or obese face greater odds of experiencing heart disease. Obesity is defined by having a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 kg / m2, outside the normal range of 18.5-24.9 kg / m2. Survey data from 2007- 2010 revealed an increased risk of heart failure for those with a higher BMI by 5 and 7 percent in men and women respectively. Getting your weight down to a healthy level will help your heart function properly without undue stress.
Kick The Habit
Smoking is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease. Smoking takes an extra hard toll on your heart, in addition to the harmful effects it has on your overall health. Smoking can damage cells that line the blood vessels, raise triglycerides, lower ‘good’ LDL cholesterol and increase the buildup of plaque within the vessels. If you smoke, make a plan to quit and add your heart to the list of overall health improvements.
- Heart Disease Facts | cdc.gov
- Heart Health – Harvard Health
- Heart disease – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
Know Your Health Numbers | American Heart Association
- Does a family history of heart attacks increase your risk? | UCI Health |Orange County, CA
- Obesity and Heart Disease – Obesity Action Coalition
- FDA Announces New Qualified Health Claims for EPA and DHA Omega-3
Consumption and the Risk of Hypertension and Coronary Heart Disease | FDA
Like I said, I’m not a health nut but I do try to take care of myself. I try to follow all of the above recommendation although the “Eat Right” and “Manage Your Weight” are a constant struggle since I love to eat and haven’t found too many things I don’t like. But, by taking care of myself now, I hope I’ll be able to do the things I really like, longer.
Take care of yourself and maybe you will be lucky enough to live a long, healthy, vigorous life. And if not, at least you tried.
If you are the person who is interested in supplements, check out the ALTRUM web site. The Founder of AMSOIL was also a person who believed in taking care of himself and worked with industry leaders to develop a line of quality nutritional supplements. If you find something you are interested in, check with me and I will see if I can get you a better price. No pressure, just information and you take it from there. To insure there is no confusion on the product your are asking about, please include the 4 letter code (followed by -EA or -CA) that appears above the price of the product.