It’s no surprise that February is designated American Heart Month. After all, what better time than the month of Valentine’s Day to remind people of the importance of focusing on their heart health? While hearts of the candy and balloon varieties abound, the ones inside our chests get some much needed attention as well.
Heart disease is the number one health risk facing all Americans and is the leading cause of death in both men and women. Fortunately, in most cases, a healthy lifestyle and thoughtful monitoring of important heart-related risk factors can make a big difference. Here are the big ones of which you should be most mindful:
Family History and Heart Disease Risk
There are many risk factors for heart disease over which you have some control. Unfortunately, this one is totally out of your hands which makes understanding it all the more important. Take a look at your first-degree relatives (parents and siblings). Do any of them have heart disease, or did they suffer a heart attack or stroke before the age of 55 for men or 65 for women? If so, you may also be at risk for such cardiovascular health concerns and should already be carefully monitoring your heart health and related conditions with your physician. Having a family history doesn’t necessarily mean that you too will have the same heart troubles, but it does mean that it is more likely for you than others and that certain tests may need to be performed at a younger age.
Medical History and Heart Disease Risk
There are several medical conditions which, while not heart disease themselves, are major contributors. Diseases such as diabetes and health concerns such as high blood pressure, cholesterol, or obesity all place undue stress on the arteries and heart. Individuals who suffer from any of these are at a much greater risk for cardiovascular complications down the line, making monitoring and controlling such conditions critically important.
Lifestyle Factors and Heart Disease Risk
One of the greatest contributors to heart disease is also the one that is most in your control. Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and tobacco use all have a sizeable impact on cardiovascular health. Taking steps such as getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, quitting smoking, and eating a diet that is rich in foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains is the best way keep your heart strong and healthy and reduce the future need for medications or other medical interventions.
So, now that you know what impacts it, take control of your heart health this February. Schedule an appointment with a physician at Lane Regional Medical Center to discuss your family health history and to undergo any recommended screenings. Once you have a solid view of your overall heart health, you can begin to make any appropriate lifestyle changes with the guidance of our medical team. Just a few small steps now could make a very big difference in your future health.
6550 Main Street, Suite 1000
Zachary, LA 70791