February is heart health month

Nell J Redfield Memorial Hospital and other Oneida County healthcare workers have joined forces to recognize and promote National Heart Health Month in February. The crew gathered on the hospital steps in their Heart Health shirts “just to remind people to live a heart-healthy life,” said Kathy Hubbard.

February is a month associated with colorful heart images. From pink cookies, cards and banners to ubiquitous advertising backdrops, the familiar shape is something of an icon of the month. But that also makes it a perfect time to remind people about cardiovascular health. According to the CDC and the National Institutes for Health, 800,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year, and 600,000 die. In terms of all causes of death nationally, it accounts for one in four deaths, making it the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide. Coronary artery disease (CHD) is the primary condition leading to heart attacks.

The average human heart weighs between 8 and 12 ounces. Despite its relatively small size, it has enough power to pump blood around the body 60-80 times per minute, creating the flow of blood that carries oxygen and nutrients to cells and removes toxins and waste. Heart disease is the result of a blockage in the arteries leading to the heart. Other heart diseases can be caused by a variety of diseases, drug use, and environmental toxins. Smoking, alcohol, stress, diabetes, inactivity and poor diet are usually cited as the most common contributors to heart attacks. Health officials also suggest that COVID-19 has been shown to be more deadly for individuals suffering from various forms of heart disease.

Heart attacks themselves vary in intensity. A report from the AHA suggests that “one in five heart attacks occurs without the person even knowing they’ve had one.” In many cases, the symptoms of a heart attack — which can include arm and neck pain, nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath, and vomiting — are dismissed as something less significant. This is especially true for women under the age of 50, who are twice as likely to die from heart attacks as men in the same demographic.

While there is no single method to ensure heart health, there are some general guidelines that have been shown to support heart health:

• Exercise – Most medical organizations, including the American Heart Association and the National Institutes for Health, agree that the most effective and important factor in heart health is staying active and moving. While all aerobic activity can dramatically improve heart health, walking has been shown to be just as effective as most high-intensity exercise and easy to practice. Pedometers and smart watches can be helpful for creating a consistent walking program and monitoring progress, but all walking is positive when it comes to getting your heart stronger.

• Diet – The word “diet” is considered problematic by many health authorities because it usually implies a focus on the visual results of weight loss or quick “gimmick” plans for quick weight loss. Diet, on the other hand, emphasizes a healthy balance of foods and materials ingested. Empty calories, such as those from soda pop or junk food, tend to increase the buildup of fat cells and cholesterol, which can lead to a buildup of plaque in the arteries and a greater workload on the heart. Simple substitutions such as B. a glass of water with a lemonade during the day can make a noticeable change.

• Testing – Experts emphasize the importance of regular screening to detect developing or emerging heart health problems. Cholesterol and blood pressure checks are easy to do and can often be done at home. Prediabetes can be caught early enough to prevent the development of full-blown diabetes, which can be an important factor in heart health.

As every year, the President signed a proclamation declaring February as American Heart Month. In the statement, he wrote: “Continuing the fight against cardiovascular disease is critical to improving our nation’s public health. During American Heart Month, we must renew our commitment to ensure a healthier future for all Americans.”