The heart is the workhorse of the body. Based on averages, most of our hearts will provide us with about 3 billion beats in a lifetime. The heart is one hard working muscle. Just as we take care of our muscles after a tough workout with ice, heat or a good stretch, there are also ways we can take care of our heart. In honor of February being American Heart Month, here are a few strategies that can help you take good care of that hard-working heart!
Heart Healthy Foods
Diet is key to keeping your heart functioning in tip-top shape. You may already be well on your way to incorporating many of these heart-healthy foods into your daily diet, but if not, consider swapping out some of your existing dietary staples with a few of these super heart-healthy options! According to healthline, many of these foods can help reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and inflammation - all which have positive effects on your health!
- Leafy Greens (think spinach, kale, collard greens)
- Whole Grains
- Fatty Fish and Fish Oil
- Dark Chocolate
- Seeds (chia, flax, hemp)
- Olive Oil
- Green Tea
Consider easy food swaps, perhaps your afternoon cup of coffee gets replaced with a heart-healthy cup of green tea. Maybe that handful of peanuts you grab to stave off hunger is replaced with a dozen almonds or walnuts. Small easy swaps can help you develop good habits in the future!
Know the Warning Signs
In addition to being keenly aware of your family history and any risk factors you may have, your heart often gives you clues if something isn't working optimally. While these clues can be subtle, it's always important to pay attention to these warning signs and be in touch with your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.
If you are experiencing any chest pain, chest tightness, chest pressure and/or chest discomfort, take note.
If participating in routine activities that don't typically cause you to lose your breath, pay attention if you are suddenly experiencing shortness of breath. This could be your heart alerting you to something being off.
Your heart works hard pumping blood to all your extremities, if you are experiencing pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in your legs or arms the blood vessels in those parts of your body may be narrowed.
Pain in the neck, jaw, throat, upper abdomen or back - many would not typically link their heart to these ailments, but it is a certain warning sign that you should be aware.
Keep Your Eye on Technology
Wearable technology has come a long way in the past decade. Although these items are not typically approved by the FDA and are certainly not a substitute for advice and visits with a medical professional, they can give you clues into your heart-health. The overall goal of these tools is to promote health and wellness.
Wearable technology, like activity trackers and smart watches, can help motivate you to keep moving which is key to heart-health. Depending on the technology, it can also serve to track data related to your body and could potentially live as part of your electronic health record. Finally, a few of these new fitness watches and activity trackers can even alert you to abnormal heart rhythms. These can cause false alarms on occasion, so it is important to have a conversation with your medical professional if this feature peaks your curiosity.
Beyond February, Always Pay Attention to your Heart-Health!
With heart disease being one of the leading killers in the United States, it's the perfect time to be more conscious of taking care of your heart through eating right, moving your body, and being aware of the warning signs your heart offers. Keeping your circulatory system at its best will help you prevent cardiovascular disease.
Are you interested in finding out other ways that you can improve your heart health? Feel free to schedule an appointment online with one of our healthcare professionals — we would be happy to help you!