Hopla’s Health Tips – Heart Health: the beat goes on

Hopla's Health Tips - Heart Health: the beat goes on

Deborah L. Hopla, DNP, Contributing Writer

The month of February is all about hearts. In the month of February we celebrate Valentine’s Day and have recently added Wear Red Day to recognize heart disease in women.

The unfortunate reality of heart diseases such as coronary heart disease, heart attack, congestive heart failure and congenital heart disease, is that they are the No. 1 cause of death for men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease causes one in four deaths. That equates to about 600,000 people who die each year from heart disease.

Men’s and women’s heart disease and heart attack symptoms tend to differ. Men will often have chest pain with radiation to the jaw and/or the left arm. Men often experience sweating, nausea and shortness of breath. Women, on the other hand, often describe feelings of fatigue and weakness. If someone experiences any of these symptoms, it is best to see a doctor right away to help prevent the symptoms from worsening and receive treatment.

Risk factors for heart disease include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. Having a sedentary lifestyle, obesity or a high fat diet also increases a person’s risk for heart disease. Having a family history of heart disease also increases your risk for developing heart related problems in the future.

So, what can a person do to reduce his or her risk for this deadly disease? Maintain an active lifestyle and keep a healthy weight. Reduce the fat consumption in your diet and don’t smoke. Have your cholesterol checked and keep your LDL (low density lipids) below 150. If someone has high blood pressure, take their medications and have their blood pressure checked often. For those with diabetes, checking their blood sugar often and keeping the levels between 70 and 120 is vital to reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Wear red in February in recognition of heart disease but know your own personal risk factors. Alter the things you can and “live long and prosper!”