February is American Heart Month: Let’s Take Care of Our Hearts

by HFC Staff

Love is in the air! February 14th is when we celebrate Valentine’s Day. And for the whole month of February, we celebrate love all around.

But did you know? The love month is also American Heart Month, when the nation spotlights heart disease, the top killer of Americans. The celebration recognizes cardiovascular disease as a threat to everyone, at every age.

Nearly 18.6 million people globally died of cardiovascular disease in 2019, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). There were more than 523.2 million cases of cardiovascular disease in 2019, an increase of 26.6% compared with 2010.

When it comes to Native Hawaii and Pacific Islanders (NHPI) statistics show that they are significantly disproportionally affected by cardiovascular disease.

In 2019, every 1 non-NHPI death due to cardiovascular disease, there were almost 4 NHPI deaths according to the Hawaii State Depart of Health.

While the ongoing pandemic has changed the life we live, it’s also encouraged us to focus on mental wellness and reducing stress. We also found creative ways to stay active and safe while cooking healthier meals to keep our community in check.

The American Heart Month is the time to celebrate strides made in saving lives by increasing health equity and tackling barriers to hearth health in our community.

To stay safe and healthy this love month, let’s look at these tips from AHA to help our hearts in check.

Let’s get moving
Regular physical activity such as cardio exercises will help regulate our stamina and blood flow. According to AHA, at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (such as aerobics, brisk walking, jogging, cycling, etc.) will also improve strength, flexibility and balance.

According to AHA, 40 minutes of aerobic exercise four times a week can help lower your blood pressure  or cholesterol and lessen the risk of heart attack and stroke. For an easier workout routine, 30 minutes of exercise from Monday to Friday is an easy goal to remember. Consistency is key when working out. With consistent exercise, you will feel stronger every single day.

Quit smoking
It’s pretty straight forward but quite hard to do for some people. But smoking is the leading preventable cause of death and disability in the US, according to AHA. Moreover, smoking decreases the heart’s access to oxygen-rich blood which can lead to abnormal blood pressure, bad blood cholesterol levels and physical inactivity.

If you need support to further quit smoking, do not hesitate to ask for help. There are medications that can help people quit smoking. Ask your healthcare provider for options that can work best for you. Support teams and programs are also a great option to get help.

Eat healthy food
High blood cholesterol happens when you eat food with too much saturated fat and trans-fat. Eat food in moderation and make sure to lower your bad cholesterol intake by changing your eating habits and meal plans. Managing cholesterol is important in keeping a healthy pumping heart. Think of nutrient-rich foods that have vitamins, minerals, fiber and such. The AHA recommends you eat a variety of nutrient-rich meals daily.

Manage stress
Just like how our hearts response to love, it also responds to stress. Stress can lead to a rise in blood pressure and a faster heart rate that can become dangerous to your heart and body. Managing stress is key to stop the cycle of stress.

Prevent and manage diabetes
Diabetes is a major risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Diabetes patience also suffer from high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol which increases their risk even more.

With following the above tips, patients have the power to control their weight and blood cholesterol and pressure with an active lifestyle and nutrient-rich diet. Moreover, it’s important for patients to avoid smoking and even, secondhand smoke.

According to AHA, people who have type 2 diabetes and smoke are three times more likely to dies of cardiovascular disease than nonsmokers.

Know the warning signs
Aside from actively preventing cardiovascular diseases, it’s also important to know the warning signs so you can act accordingly in case of emergencies.

Some heart attacks are sudden and intense but most times, it can start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Here are signs to look out for:

– Chest discomfort, particularly in the center of the chest.
– Discomfort in other areas of the body. It can be in both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
– Shortness of breath.
– And other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

If you recognize any of these warning signs in yourself or your loved ones, do not hesitate to call 911 immediately. It’s important to get to the hospital right away.

To learn more about American Hearth Month, visit the American Heart Association website: heart.org.

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