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5 Facts About the Heart and Heart Disease to Optimize Heart Health

An elderly gentleman was preparing to eat lunch when he told his caregiver that he was experiencing heartburn. They discussed what could have caused it, recanting a list of foods and beverages he had consumed prior to mealtime, and no conclusion was formed.

Considering the man is almost 92 years old and in very good health with no prior heart issues, the caregiver gave him a dose of Pepto-Bismol in an attempt to ease his discomfort. In this instance, the caregiver became curious about the causes of heartburn, and she decided to explore more facts relating to the heart.

February is American Heart Month, and along with the brain, the heart serves as one of the most important organs in our bodies. After all, its involuntary actions keep every one of us alive every day.

I, too, decided to do some research, and here I share 5 facts about the heart and heart disease so we can all optimize our cardiovascular health.

All Forms of Smoking Harm the Heart. “Smoking hurts almost every organ in the body, including the heart, says the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute — how it functions, its structure, the blood vessels and the blood itself.” This includes vaping. “There's a 71% higher risk of stroke and 59% higher risk of developing a heart attack when you vape.”

If you are a smoker, it is recommended that you do whatever it takes to quit. Smoking cessation programs and remedies are readily available, so consult with your doctor about what may work best for you.

Sitting is as Bad as Smoking. Whether you are working at a desk job at home or in an office or you are regularly binging Netflix, studies have shown that blood pressure and blood sugar levels increase, raising our risk of developing heart disease. This happens when leg muscles are not allowed to contract and do their job of removing sugar from the blood and breaking down fatty acids.

To remedy this problem, get up and get moving every 30 minutes. Good Housekeeping suggests creating a playlist of songs that you can dance to for 3 minutes, or in the workplace, walk up a few flights of stairs, or around the building.

Reduce Stress. “A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)—and several other previous studies—showed that mental stress is a strong potential cardiac risk factor. The reason: The fight-or-flight response that accompanies stress releases hormones that cause changes in the body (for example, increasing blood pressure and body fat over time). Stress also brings about higher inflammation in the arteries.”

Find ways to separate yourself from stressful situations and participate in calming activities you enjoy. Consider it self-care, which we all need!

Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet. Cut back on processed foods. Reduce your sodium (salt) intake. Cut back on carbohydrates (primarily the whites: bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, and sugar). Consume more fruits, vegetables, fiber and whole grains. Eat less saturated fats contained in fatty meats, and high-fat dairy products. A Mediterranean diet is highly recommended to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Exercise Energizes the Heart. “Exercise is a great heart-booster, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. It can help keep your blood pressure in check, cut back on stress hormones and help muscles pull oxygen out of the blood, among many other things. Overall, getting regular exercise — a combo of aerobic exercise and resistance training — reduces the risk of sudden heart attack and other potentially fatal cardiac events.”

150 minutes of aerobic exercise is recommended each week.

I found these facts and more in an easy and interesting read published by Good Housekeeping. The article mentioned that learning certain tips and statistics can arm us all against heart disease, the leading cause of death among women in the United States. I encourage you to continue reading the article and research more ways you can keep your heart healthy!

If you or someone you know has heart disease, high blood pressure, or is recovering from a heart attack or cardiovascular surgery, Home Helpers® Kankakee can provide assistance and support to help make their life easier. Our team of compassionate caregivers is highly trained and skilled to help with personal care, light housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal preparation, 24-hour monitoring, as well as a variety of additional in-home care services.

I am happy to offer a FREE Assessment to discuss specific needs and recommend the many ways we can help!

Home Helpers® Bourbonnais/Kankakee/Frankfort proudly serves male and female seniors in Beecher, Bourbonnais, Bradley, Dwight, Frankfort, Kankakee, Manteno, Mokena, New Lenox, Orland Park, Palos Heights, Palos Hills, Tinley Park, Watseka, Wilmington, and surrounding areas. Contact me today to learn more about the many services offered through Home Helpers® - We are Making Life Easier℠ for you and yours! 815.427.4238


Good Housekeeping