Listen to your heart…

Heart disease. To you it may just be two words on a website but to thousands of families each year, these words are much more devastating.

The word “heart disease” covers a variety of heart afflictions including the most common type, coronary artery disease. Coronary artery disease is caused by the narrowing of the arteries, which are the vessels that supply blood to your heart, due to a build up of plaque (cholesterol deposits). Heart disease is the #1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States, and it is estimated that one in every four Americans will die because of it.

Many people are unaware of how at risk they are for heart disease. Men are more likely to develop heart disease but women also have an increased risk following menopause. As we age our risk for heart disease is greater as well. It is also important to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels often because both high blood pressure and high cholesterol puts you at a higher risk for developing heart disease. Do not forget to know your family history. Many people fail to recognize disease patterns in their families and many times your family history can be your first warning to what may lie ahead.

This is what heart disease looks like

Still not worried? Chances are you are not living the best heart healthy lifestyle.

If you smoke, STOP! Not just because it increases your risk of heart disease but for so many reasons.

If you eat poorly, change your diet because you are what you eat. If you eat a diet full of junk it is likely that your heart will suffer the consequences. Try to limit your fat, sugar, and salt intake, your entire body will thank you.

If you are obese or physically inactive, then get moving. Being obese will increase your risk for exacerbating some of heart diseases risk factors such as diabetes. Exercising can help you lose weight and decrease your risk of heart disease. It’s a win win! (Note: exercise is just as important for people who are not obese. Your heart is a muscle so it should be worked out as well)

If you are stressed, whether it be school, work, or life in general find a way to alleviate it. Stress can damage blood vessels and may increase the likelihood of developing heart disease through various risk factors. If changing your job or school load is not an option, find ways to relieve your stress like reading a book at night or doing yoga. Even deep breathing for five minutes can be extremely effective at relieving stress.

My final advice…take care of your heart because you only get one.