Did you know this was heart health month?
The heart is one of the most important organs in the body and one of the most promoted images in society. We have all seen heart shaped balloons, jewelry, and even donuts. But the heart is more than an image of love or passion, it’s responsible for so much more.
What does the heart do? It pumps blood throughout the body to supply oxygen, nutrients and remove carbon dioxide and other wastes. Essentially, it’s the power source that provides energy and food to every part of the body from the brain all the way down to our toes. If the heart stops, everything in the body will eventually stop too.
Why worry about heart disease?
Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. for men and women
Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. dies of a stroke, heart attack or other cardiovascular disease
Eighty percent of all heart disease and strokes could be prevented if people exercised more, ate healthier and stopped using tobacco
Cardiovascular disease, listed as the underlying cause of death, accounts for nearly 836,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. That’s about 1 of every 3 deaths in the U.S.
What are some signs of common risk factors of a heart disease?
Hereditary (family members with different forms of heart disease like stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease)
Overweight (defined as BMI measurement over 25 - link in references for BMI calculator)
High cholesterol (defined as over 200mg/dL)
HIGH blood pressure (BP)
Normal is 120/80 or less; systolic pressure is the top number; diastolic pressure is the bottom number.
There are 5 different levels of high BP; normal, elevated, hypertension stage I, hypertension stage II and hypertensive crisis.
Hypertensive crisis is if your BP elevates to 180 or higher as the systolic number and 120 or higher as the diastolic number; this is considered a crisis and requires immediate and emergency medical attention.
Ok, so heart disease IS serious. But, also preventable and reversible.
What are some steps to increase physical activity?
Do something active that you enjoy; yoga, dancing with Zumba, cycling, running, group classes, lifting weights or rock climbing.
It doesn’t matter how you stay active, just be active!
Start plan for beginners below:
Check with your primary physician to ensure you have no preexisting conditions that prevent activity
Once cleared, start with a 30-minute walk in your neighborhood or on a treadmill
Bad knees? No excuses, start with a 30-minute bike ride or bike session, it reduces the impact and pressure on knees
Take 5-pound weights and do some exercises (bicep curl, calf raises, air punches, or shoulder presses)
No weights? No problem. Use an old gallon of milk container or detergent container and fill it up with water. One for each arm
Complete a bingo in the board above every day while rating your level of exertion (1-10) during all of physical activities in your bingo. The goal is to reduce level of exertion for same amount of activity. If exertion level decreases, this is a good sign that your heart is getting stronger, and your endurance is increasing!
It’s your heart, and it’s time to show it some real love.
Your Physical Therapist,
Ten ways to stay heart healthy chart:
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts