As February is coming to an end, don’t forget it’s still Heart Month! No, I’m not talking about Valentine’s Day. Although the heart-shaped chocolate boxes and red-everything is adorable, that’s not what I’m referring to. February is National Heart Health month. I’m talking about the real-deal, blood pumping machine.
Heart Health Month raises awareness around heart disease and promotes routine check-ups to preempt future health issues. There is a good chance that anyone reading this knows at least one person who has been affected by some version of heart disease, a heart attack, or several other heart-related health issues. That’s probably due to the fact that heart disease has been the main cause of deaths in the U.S. for the past decade. According to the CDC, about 610,000 people die from heart disease in the U.S. every single year. That means 1 out of every 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. More than half of these deaths are men. One would think with this information that we’d be taking better care of our hearts and using extra precautions, but unfortunately, most people are not.
…Heart disease has been the main cause of deaths in the U.S for the past decade.
You may think this article is unrelated to you, that you’re young, you exercise just enough to avoid heart disease, and eating greasy fried chicken isn’t that bad for you. Well, guess what? There is no such thing as starting to take care of your heart too early. Consider me your wake-up call. Or, if you’ve been waiting for a sign to make some lifestyle changes and keep putting it off until tomorrow… well, here’s your sign. Time doesn’t stop for anyone, and the earlier we start taking our health seriously, the better. This month is especially important to me since my beloved grandpa passed away due to complications from a double by-pass surgery when I was just 10-years-old. The bright red heart shaped pillow that he received from the hospital 11 years ago is still something that my family keeps in memory of him.
When I was growing up, I didn’t fully understand why he was sick, or what was wrong. But as I got older, I began to realize that his clogged arteries could have potentially been avoided, had he taken more preventative steps in order to keep his heart healthy. This is why I’m a strong believer in prevention being a better solution than a cure. Why not take easy steps to prevent the situation from occurring in the first place, rather than suffering from the consequences later on? So let’s take time out of our busy schedules to care for our non-stop blood-pumping machines, just as much as they care for us.
Here’s a list of some major symptoms to look out for:
- Chest pain or discomfort.
- Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea, feeling light-headed, or cold sweats.
If you, your friends and family, or any of your loved ones exhibit any of these symptoms, visit a doctor immediately.
Here’s a list of specific medical conditions and lifestyle choices that could put one at risk for heart disease:
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical activity
If you’re overwhelmed by this overload of information, relax, take a breather. A small step is better than taking no step at all. Start with a 10-minute daily jog, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or arriving to campus or work a little early, and walking the longer route to your destination. Start cutting back on the salt during dinner time, but more importantly, spread the word.
We all lead busy lives and don’t always remember to care for ourselves, and we sometimes forget the important steps we should be taking. Engage your friends and family in your motives to better your health, and slowly it’ll become normal habit for everyone involved. Take care of your hearts, find balance in your life, and don’t forget to indulge a little, you deserve it!