This February, maybe the perfect Valentines “gift” is something money can’t buy. Think outside the box and look beyond the flowers and the chocolate this year – you can give the gift of heart health!
Along with this romantic holiday, February marks the awareness of American Heart Month. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women of most ethnicities in the United States. In fact, about 610,000 people die of cardiovascular disease in the U.S. every year – that’s 1 out of every 4 deaths!
Although the statistics for heart disease can be overwhelming, they’re not meant to scare you. Rather, this special awareness month aims to educate the public about the importance of heart health and what YOU can do to ensure your healthiest and strongest heart possible!
Weight and the Heart: What’s the Connection?
You might be wondering why the Your Weight Matters Campaign is talking about American Heart Month, but that’s because weight and overall health are big contributors to poor cardiovascular function. Excess weight is associated with a number of cardio risk factors including, but not limited to:
- High cholesterol
- Elevated blood glucose levels/diabetes
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
So, what do these risk factors really mean? Ultimately, excess weight and obesity can contribute to the above conditions and put individuals at risk for heart issues such as heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary heart disease, stroke and venous thromboembolism – among others.
What Can I Do to Protect My Heart?
In addition to excess weight and obesity, there are several other factors that may contribute to poor cardiovascular health. Fortunately, being aware of these risk factors can help you prevent many issues with heart health in the future.
Non-modifiable Risk Factors:
- Family history of heart health struggles
Modifiable Risk Factors (Good for Your Heart AND Your Weight!):
- Unhealthy Diet – Foods that are high in fat, salt, sugars and cholesterol can affect your cardiovascular health, but a balanced diet filled with lean meats and other proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help protect you.
- Physical Inactivity – Exercise improves your heart’s ability to function and grow stronger. Getting appropriate physical activity can boost your cardiovascular health!
- Hypertension – High blood pressure can increase your risk of serious illness. Eating nutritiously, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are all excellent ways to combat hypertension.
- Tobacco Use – Strive to cut back on or eliminate tobacco use from your lifestyle, as this will ultimately benefit your cardiovascular (and respiratory!) health.
- Abnormal Cholesterol – Eating a lean, nutritious diet can help prevent increased cholesterol levels and help your body run as smoothly as possible.
- Raised Blood Glucose/Diabetes – Controlling your diet and exercise may help prevent issues with weight and/or your heart.
- Excess Weight/Obesity – All of the above suggestions can help prevent issues with your body overall, and especially this important organ!
How Can I Participate in American Heart Month?
Remember – this February, give the Valentine’s gift of health! In addition to making healthy changes and modifications to your own lifestyle, you can also share this information with others. Educate your friends, your family, your colleagues and anyone else you feel comfortable talking to. Also, make it a point to visit your doctor and talk about ways that you can achieve the best heart health possible!
Want to learn more about the connection between weight and your heart?
CLICK HERE for more information from Your Weight Matters Magazine.