Open book with red foil hearts sprinkled over it with text overlay: Be Your Own Valentine: Love Your Heart

[Wellness] Be Your Own Valentine: Love Your Heart

Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday everyone! Since February is Heart Month, I thought we’d talk a little about taking care of our hearts. Our hearts work hard for us, pumping around 2,000 gallons of blood throughout our body each day. The least we can do is show them a little love….

Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States?

According to healthy people.govcurrently more than 1 in 3 adults (85.6 million) live with 1 or more types of cardiovascular disease.”  “In addition to being the first and fifth leading causes of death, heart disease and stroke result in serious illness and disability” and “decreased quality of life….” That’s pretty scary, isn’t it? It’s especially distressing because so many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease are things we’re doing to ourselves.

Things That May Increase Our Risk Of Heart Disease:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Not eating a healthy diet
  • Untreated health conditions, such as diabetes

That’s the bad news. Now for the good news: Heart disease can often be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices and managing health conditions. Let’s take a look at a few things that may help us reduce our risk.

10 Ways We Can Show Our Hearts Some Love:

  1. Know your numbers. We’ve probably all heard the saying that what we don’t know can’t hurt us, While that may be true in some cases, it certainly is not in this one. It’s important to know our blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose numbers, as each of these can contribute to heart health or heart disease.
  2. Manage blood pressure. Keeping our blood pressure within normal ranges can reduce strain on our circulatory system. This helps reduce one of the major risk factors.
  3. Keep cholesterol within healthy ranges. We need to work with our medical team to make sure not only our total cholesterol, but our LDL and HDL cholesterol, as well as our triglycerides are at the desired level.
  4. Keep blood sugar under control. Chronic, high levels of glucose in the blood can damage our hearts, kidneys, and other organs.
  5. Eat healthfully. Diet plays a huge role in our overall health, and eating a heart-healthy diet can help us feel our best and reduce our risk of heart disease.
  6. Get (or stay) active. The recommended level of activity is currently 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, but if you’re not there, don’t stress about it. Remember, something is better than nothing. Every little bit of movement helps. Just start where you are and build up slowly.
  7. Stay at a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight helps us reduce stress on our heart and other organs, as well as our musculoskeletal system.
  8. Reduce stress. Let’s face it – stress puts a strain not just on our mental health, but can increase inflammation in the body, which can begin to affect our hearts.
  9. Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke. Smoking can greatly increase our risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and even if we’re not smoking ourselves, breathing in someone else’s smoke can do the same damage.
  10. If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. Although some studies have shown that red wine can be beneficial for heart health, studies have also shown that too much alcohol can damage our hearts and other organs. “Moderate” alcohol consumption is defined as no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.

If you’d like more information, the American Heart Association has a wonderful resource to help us take small steps toward heart health, called Life’s Simple 7. They include seven steps we can take to improve our cardiovascular health, and with each step, they have links that take you to resources that can help with each step.

Let’s be our own valentine this year. Let’s make a commitment to be more intentional about our heart health, and do things that help us strengthen our hearts and weaken our risks.

Do you know your numbers? What’s one thing you do for your heart health? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month

https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/heart-disease-and-stroke?_ga=2.126190283.798716364.1581523326-2106917355.1581523326

https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/my-life-check–lifes-simple-7?NavID=5&CultureCode=en-US

Rose petals with text overlay: Be Your Own Valentine: Love Your Heart

19 comments

  1. Great alternative Valentine’s message, Terri. No8 – ‘stress is a killer’, that saying does have some truth to it sadly. Definitely need to work on this. My dad has high BP so I looked at heart health and how to lower BP, improve cholesterol etc ever since. It’s good to be mindful of the small changes we can make and to get BP/cholesterol checked if we haven’t in a little while. Great tips! xx

    1. Thanks so much Caz! Heart health is something that is near and dear to my heart. As you know, my Pop had a heart attack last February, and now, my father-in-law has just had bypass surgery. Although there are some risk factors we can’t control, I think it’s important to do those things that we can to reduce our risk. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Hugs!

  2. This is such a great reminder that we need to take care of ourselves. As a mom I often put myself to the back and take care of family first. But if I’m unhealthy then who will take care of them? Thank you for these healthy heart tips!!

    1. Thanks so much Michelle! It’s so easy, especially for moms, to put our own health on the back burner. As you said, though, if we’re unhealthy we can’t take care of our families. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

  3. Thanks for sharing this Terri. I just wish my aunt was more diligent about knowing these signs before she passed away suddenly from a heart attack several years back. I guess you can only remind them but ultimately it’s truly up to the person to be their own monitor.

    1. Thanks for sharing Mark. I’m sorry to hear about your aunt. You’re right that we have to monitor our own health. Of course, sometimes we can do everything “right” and still have issues. The important thing is doing what we can for the things that are under our control. I know I intend to be more vigilant. I’m not a Spring chicken anymore so I’d better do what I can to stack the odds in my favor.😁 Blessings to you!

  4. Yes Terri I do know my numbers & have increased my activity to that magic number 😀 even with FM, though it’s a struggle, I’m determined! As well as having lost 10kgs (22lbs) thus far, my lifestyle is now permanently changed for the positive!
    A cure for FM would delightfully complete the picture! 😉
    Bless you,
    Jennifer

  5. I love this post, Terri. What an encouraging (alternative) message for Valentine’s Day! The statistics are alarming – 1 in 3 people. Wow. I often wonder if this has everything to do with our “be ‘productive’ above all” culture. Productivity has been replaced with busyness and people’s values have been tied to “what they do.” I find it deeply troubling. All of this constant need to be doing something is anything but healthy, in my humble opinion.

    Stress is definitely a killer. Fear, anxiety and depression often follow close behind. Any of these conditions are detrimental in ways we could never imagine.

    I thank you for sharing this wonderful and critical message. It is my prayer that everyone find more peace in their lives, in their bodies, minds and hearts. Heaven knows we need it!

    All my love to you and your family. I pray you are well. 🤗

    1. Thank you so much Holly! I agree that the whole “productivity” obsession (and the stress that goes along with it) probably contributes to the problem, along with the Standard American Diet (SAD) that consists of processed, fat-and-sugar-filled foods that we can’t seem to get enough of….. Of course, even when we do everything “right” we can still have problems. We just have to manage the risk factors we can control. Blessings to you sweet friend. Sending hugs your way!

Please tell me what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.