With Valentines Day right around the corner it makes sense that February has been designated as National Heart Month. Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year…that’s 1 out of every 4 deaths. In fact, in the time it took you to read this far, one person has died from the complications of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Throughout the month of February, several health organizations such as the American Heart Association, Center for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institute of Health each have national campaigns that aim to educate Americans about the prevalence and prevention of heart disease.
Heart disease comes in many forms and has several complications. That’s why it is so important to know your risk. Although typically thought of as a “man’s disease”, more than 90% of all females have at least one risk factor. That tells us everyone, regardless of gender, had better start paying more attention to their ticker! Family history is a good place to start, as well as lifestyle. Blood pressure, cholesterol levels and glucose intake are all good measures to know your risk. Smoking and diabetes are also major risk factors for heart disease.
The situation is alarming,especially considering over $312.6 billion is spent each year in the treatment of heart disease. But there is good news, heart disease is preventable and controllable. We can start by taking small steps every day to bring our loved ones and ourselves closer to heart health. The CDC is providing a tip a day throughout February, but you can take these small steps all year long to help promote better heart an overall health.
As you begin your journey to better heart health, keep these things in mind:
- Don’t become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart.
- Don’t go it alone. The journey is more fun when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.
- Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep and do what you can tomorrow.
- Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some friends for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.
Plan for Prevention
Some health conditions and lifestyle factors can put people at a higher risk for developing heart disease. You can help prevent heart disease by making healthy choices and managing any medical conditions you may have.
- Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables—adults should have at least 5 servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting sodium in your diet also can lower your blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
- Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis.
- Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible.
- Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure. Men should stick to no more than two drinks per day, and women to no more than one.
- Have your cholesterol checked. Your health care provider should test your cholesterol levels at least once every 5 years.
- Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your doctor about treatment options.
- Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something.
Most important of all, and I say this with all due respect and sincerity…GET OFF YOUR ASS AND GET ACTIVE! Frankly there is no better advice, trust me, you, your family and friends will thank me for it.
In observance of National Heart Month, I’ve coaxed my wife to start walking and running, setting a goal for the both of us of participating in a 5k by March. We’re targeting that sea of pink known as the Susan G Koman on March 9th. Ready or not, we will pop our pink running cherries on that day. By the way, no one hates running more than me. Hell I’d rather do a double, no triple century and climb the Col du Galibier in my big rig than run, but I will do it for the both of us…and also to get a certain Brit off my back about running 😉
We officially started today, doing a brisk 4.5 mile walk, with our puppy in tow…poor thing probably worked 5 times more than we did, after all, mini doxy’s have very short legs!
Tuesday, February 5
Distance: 4.47 mi
Sunday, February 3
Route: Beach Route
Ride Time: 2:58:45
Stopped Time: 1:10:16
Distance: 50.51 miles
Average: 16.95 mph
Fastest Speed: 31.17 mph
Cycle This Month: 70.09 miles
Cycle This Year: 794.70 miles