American Heart Month
For the past few decades’ heart disease has claimed the #1 killer spot in the United States – for both men and women. While there is a plethora of research, misconceptions about heart disease plague our minds more than the cold hard facts. February is American Heart Month, making it the perfect time of year to learn about a disease that kills more than 600,000 Americans annually.
Let’s set the record straight about some common myths and explore options to better your quality of life.
Misconceptions About Heart Disease
There are a lot of assumptions we make about our hearts. For each myth, there is often some truth behind it. Here are five of the most common myths related to heart disease:
Heart Myth #1: “I would know if I had high blood pressure or high cholesterol.”
Fact: The only way to know and matter-of-factly verify if you have high blood pressure (hypertension) or unhealthy cholesterol levels is to get tested through your doctor.
Heart Myth #2: “Heart disease is the same for men and women.”
Fact: Heart disease can affect the sexes very differently. This begins with symptoms. Although many people experience the classic “elephant sitting on the chest” sensation when they have a heart attack, there are also other symptoms, and they are more common among women like menopause transition. See SMD blog on heart disease in women: https://signaturemd.com/concierge-physicians/concierge-physician-blog/heart-disease-in-women/
Heart Myth #3: “Younger women aren’t at risk.”
Fact: In fact, it is not a disease specific just to older women – all gender and ages can be at risk for heart disease. After all, there is genetic risk factor, which will not care your age or gender.
Heart Myth #4: “Exercise is too risky if you have heart disease.”
Fact: This is almost always false. After a coronary event, such as a heart attack, people are typically encouraged to get right into rehabilitation and start working out within a two-week period. There are really very few people who have significant long-term restrictions in regards to never doing exercise.
Heart Health Myth #5: “Once I have heart disease, there’s nothing I can do to significantly improve my health.”
Fact: Absolutely not true. There has been research showing that in some cases you may be able to undo the damage (i.e. improve blood flow to the heart and improve the hearts ability to pump normally) – and your lifestyle plays a crucial part. Exercising, eating a healthy “whole food” diet containing an abundance of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, limiting processed foods and high-cholesterol meats, not smoking, and avoiding second-hand smoke can go a long way toward heart disease prevention.
Heart Healthy Choices
American Heart Month teaches us all about the importance of educating ourselves on heart disease. Celebrate February and American Heart Month by following these easy-to-do recommendations:
- Drink at least 64 ounces of water daily – Not only is water great for your skin but hydration can make all the difference when it comes to a healthy you and a decreased risk of heart disease by 46% in men and 59% in women a study shows.
- Utilize vitamin supplements made from 100 percent organic whole foods – Modern day food supplies lack the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals, so almost all of us need supplements. These supplements are vitamins from foods in their natural state. Whole food vitamins benefit the body nutritionally by keeping all the nutrients and vitamins intact. Whole food vitamins are better absorbed by your gastrointestinal tract than individual isolate vitamins. For example, recent studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency increases the risk for heart related diseases.
- Get your fill of essential fatty acids; raw nuts and/or seeds are a good source – According to the FDA, scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most raw nuts as part of a low saturated fats and low cholesterol diet that may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Omega-3 and Omega-6 are considered essential because we as humans can’t usually manufacture these proteins on our own. Recent research has shown Omega-6 to be more beneficial than the assumed fish oil supplement.
- Eat high-quality proteins – Proteins have excellent sources of amino acids – Some proteins to add to your life include: seafood, eggs, beans, chicken, game meat, duck and turkey. A study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explains, that perhaps the strongest protective influence of increased, high-quality protein intake is for the lowering of blood pressure which is a condition that increases your risk for heart disease. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, be sure to combine alternative protein sources to make sure you’re receiving all the recommended nutrients that you may not get with a meat based diet!
- Get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day – Don’t convince yourself that you don’t have the rights skills or equipment to exercise for heart health. If you can walk, then you have everything you need. Yes, even just walking for 30 minutes over three or four months can lower your cholesterols by 10-20 percent. Activity, like walking, is a giant stress reliever because it has positive physiologic effects in relation to stress experienced by the human body. Walking actually has the most productive effect – rapidly decreasing adrenal stress more than any other activity.
- http://www.cbsnews.com/news/february-is-american-heart-month-are-you-doing-enough/. February is American Heart Month: Are You Doing Enough?
- http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HeartMonth/. February is American Heart Month.
- http://www.monstersandcritics.com/we-heart-you-two-top-doctors-give-heart-healthy-advice-for-february/. We Heart You: Two Top Doctors Give Heart Healthy Advice for February.
- http://www.cdc.gov/salt/healthyhearttips.htm. 28 Days to a Healthier Heart.
- http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6235a4.htm?s_cid=mm6235a4_w. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
- http://www.cdc.gov/cholesterol/. High Cholesterol.
- http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/. High Blood Pressure.
- http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/. CDC, Nutrition.
- http://www.choosemyplate.gov. Choose My Plate.
- http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/index.html. Healthy Weight – It’s not a Diet, It’s a Lifestyle.
- http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Top-10-Myths-about-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_430164_Article.jsp. Heart Disease Misconceptions.
- http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/5/1571S.full. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition – Protein in Optimal Health: Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes.
- http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Top-10-Myths-about-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_430164_Article.jsp. 10 Myths of CVD.
- http://www.webmd.com/heart/features/heart-health-myths. Heart Health Center – 6 Risky Heart Health Myths.
- http://www.livestrong.com/article/378188-the-best-rated-whole-food-vitamins/. Whole Food Vitamins.
- http://www.clubreduva.com/fitness/nutrition-fitness/exercise-can-help-reduce-cholesterol-levels-and. Exercise Can Help Reduce Cholesterol Levels – and Your Risk of Stroke.
- http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/features/can-you-reverse-heart-disease. Can You Reverse Heart Disease?
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