The Heart of the Matter

OK, the blog title might be a little silly, but heart disease is certainly no laughing matter. An estimated 610,000 Americans die from heart disease every year (that’s one in every four deaths), with someone having a heart attack every 42 seconds. And death isn’t the only consequence of this pervasive and ugly disease. Besides costing the United States alone an estimated $207 billion (healthcare, prescriptions, and lost products), it severely affects the way many of those dealing with the disease live and interact every day.

Tens of millions of people in North America struggle with the disease; some are diagnosed, others haven’t even recognized the reason they feel lethargic and sluggish. Because heart disease affects the body’s blood supply and circulation, heart disease can also cause far-reaching problems with the eyes, kidneys, and legs.

Many things raise the risk of an individual having heart disease. Key risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking—and an overwhelming 49 percent of Americans have at least one of these. Having diabetes, being overweight, and excessive drinking can also contribute to the disease.

Thankfully, the outlook is not all doom and gloom. While it’s a serious health problem, it is also treatable. There are many things you can do that can make a difference in your heart health, including the following:

  • Eat healthy: Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and eat plenty of fruits and veggies, fiber-rich whole grains, fish (preferably oily fish-at least twice per week), nuts, legumes and seeds. Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and red meat.
  • Be physically active:  Work you way up to at least two and a half hours moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, such as walking, every week or one hour and fifteen minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity, or a combination of both every week.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
  • Manage stress. Learning stress management techniques not only benefits your body, but also your quality of life. Try deep breathing exercises and find time each day to do something you enjoy.
  • Have regular physical exams: Find a doctor and establish a relationship with him and her. Check your blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, blood sugar, and body mass index.
  • Watch your weight.

February is Heart Health Month, and E. EXCEL is proud to be part of the movement to make heart health a focus during this month that we celebrate who and what we love the most in our lives.