By the time it took for you to get through a 40-second Superbowl ad, one person died from heart disease (1). Every February, the American Heart Association (AHA) brings heart disease to the forefront of the public health agenda. Heart disease is an umbrella term that includes the following conditions: coronary artery disease, heart attack, cardiac arrest, congestive heart failure, and congenital heart diseases (3). As a muscular organ, the heart is situated on the left side of the body. On average, the adult heart beats about 100,000 times a day, and transports 2,000 gallons of blood throughout the body (2). Besides keeping us alive, the heart plays a very important role in the body–from circulating nutrients to our cells, to maintaining a pressure sufficient enough for blood to circulate from the tip of our scalp all the way down to our toes (4). Although the heart functions the same in both men and women, symptoms for a heart attack manifest differently; while men often report crushing chest pain, sweating and nausea, women might experience shortness of breath, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, and upper back pressure, according to AHA (1).
In our daily busy lives, between the pile of responsibilities, it is often challenging to incorporate heart healthy habits. Beatrice, an AHA ambassador, who travels often for work, notes the difficulties of adopting healthy habits while on the road. “During layovers, I’ll walk laps in the airport, and depending on the city, I’ll walk near the hotel to get my heart rate up,” Beatrice said. As heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, there are many ways in which the community is empowering its citizens to be more heart-healthy (see examples from Jo’s previous post). In my town, the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Center is offering free fitness room passes for the month of February! Whether it’s means waking up early to make a heart-healthy breakfast of oatmeal, or walking on your lunch break instead of sitting at your desk, it is vital to set intentional goals that will get you closer to becoming a healthier version YOU!
Until next time,
- Chilnick, Lawrence. Heart Disease: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. Philadelphia, PA: Perseus Books Group, 2008