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Feature of the Month: Love Your Heart!

Did you know?

  • The first American Heart Month, which took place in February 1964, was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson via Proclamation 3566 on December 30, 1963.
  • The Congress, by joint resolution on that date, has requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating February as American Heart Month.
  • At that time, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease.
  • While American Heart Month is a federally designated month in the United States, it’s important to realize that cardiovascular disease knows no borders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.3 million deaths each year.
  • That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson’s proclamation that first declared February as American Heart Month

Daily Tips to Keep Your Heart Healthy!

1. Avoid Trans Fat

We need fats in our diet, including saturated and polyunsaturated and unsaturated fats, which can be found in nuts such as almonds and walnuts. Trans fat, on the other hand, is known to increase your risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke over a lifetime. This is because trans fat clogs your arteries by raising your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and lowering your good cholesterol levels (HDL). By limiting and removing them from your diet, you improve the blood flow throughout your body. Trans fats are industry-produced fats often used in packaged baked goods, snack foods, margarines and fried fast foods to add flavor and texture.

Tip: Be mindful of food labels before purchasing food items. Trans fat appears on the ingredients list as partially hydrogenated oils. The more processed a food item is, the more likely trans fat has been used to make it.

2. Practice good dental hygiene, especially flossing your teeth daily

Dental health is a good indication of overall health, including your heart, because those who have periodontal (gum) disease often have the same risk factors for heart disease. Studies continue on this issue, but many have shown that bacteria in the mouth involved in the development of gum disease can move into the bloodstream and cause an elevation in C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation in the blood vessels. These changes may in turn, increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Tip: Floss and brush your teeth daily to ward off gum disease. Avoid cavities and other dental issues as an added bonus!

3. Get enough sleep

Sleep is an essential part of keeping your heart healthy. If you don’t sleep enough, you may be at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease no matter your age or other health habits. One study looking at 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night. Researchers believe sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes, including blood pressure and inflammation.

Tip: Make sleep a priority. Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep most nights. If you have sleep apnea, seek treatment immediately, as this condition is linked to heart disease and arrhythmias.

4. Keep Active- even at work!

In recent years, research has suggested that staying seated for long periods of time is bad for your health no matter how much exercise you do. This is bad news for the many people who sit at sedentary jobs all day. When looking at the combined results of several observational studies that included nearly 800,000 people, researchers found that in those who sat the most, there was an associated 147 percent increase in cardiovascular events and a 90 percent increase in death caused by these events. In addition, sitting for long periods of time (especially when traveling) increases your risk of deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot).

Tip: Exerts say it’s important to move throughout the day. Park farther away from the office, take a few shorter walks throughout the day and/or use a standing work station so you can move up and down. Exercising at least 20 minutes a day, three days a week can also reduce your risk and help keep you healthy!

5. Avoid secondhand smoke like the plague

Studies show that the risk of developing heart disease is about 25 to 30 percent higher for people who are exposed to secondhand smoke at home or work. According to the American Heart Association, exposure to tobacco smoke contributes to about 34,000 premature heart disease deaths and 7,300 lung cancer deaths each year. And nonsmokers who have high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol have an even greater risk of developing heart disease when they’re exposed to secondhand smoke. This is because the chemicals emitted from cigarette smoke promote the development of plaque buildup in the arteries.

Tip: Be firm with smokers that you do not want to be around environmental smoke—and keep children away from secondhand smoke. 


14 LOVE-ly Facts About Your Heart!

February is the month that we celebrate love, so it's a good time to give some love to your heart!  After all, it works tirelessly to keep you alive and healthy! During American Heart Month this year, support your heart by adopting healthy habits and celebrate all of the things your heart can do!

1. Your heart can weigh between 7 and 15 ounces.

A man’s heart weighs, on average, around 10 ounces and a woman’s heart weighs around 8 ounces.

2. Newborn babies have the fastest heartbeats.

A newborn’s heart rate is around 70 to 190 beats per minute. The average adult should have a resting heart rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute. If your resting heart rate is higher or increases over several years, it could be a sign of current or impending heart problems. Athletes, who regularly train, will have a very slow resting heart rate around 40 to 60 beats per minute. Women also have faster heart rates, on average, than men because their hearts are smaller in size and need to beat more to pump the same amount of blood.

3. Your heart is located in the middle of your chest.

The heart resides behind your breastbone, but it’s tilted to the left, which makes it easier to feel on that side of your chest.

4. Your heart beats around 100,000 times a day.

The sound you hear when it beats is actually the noise of the heart valves opening and closing.

5. Your heart pumps 2,000 gallons of blood a day.

That blood travels about 12,000 miles through your body each day, which is four times the size of the U.S. from coast to coast. During your lifetime, you pump about one million barrels of blood.

6. Heart attacks happen most often on Monday mornings.

Stress hormones are higher in the morning than at any other point during the day, and Mondays in particular seem to cause people more stress than other days of the week. A rise in blood pressure, plus an increase in heart rate and stress hormones can break pockets of plaque and cause a blockage in the heart.

7. There are 60,000 miles of blood vessels in your body.

The blood vessels (arteries, capillaries, and veins), laid end-to-end, would measure about 100,000 km (60,000 miles), or approximately 2.5 times the circumference of the earth. Capillaries account for about 80,000 km (50,000 miles) of vasculature in an adult.

8. Men and women have different heart attack symptoms.

The symptoms of a woman having a heart attack are much less prominent than a man. For women, heart attacks can feel like uncomfortable squeezing, pressure, fullness or pain in the center of the chest. It can also produce pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach, shortness of breath, nausea and other symptoms. Men experience the typical heart attack symptoms of chest pain, discomfort and pressure. They, too, can experience pain in other areas, such as the arms, neck, back and jaw, as well as shortness of breath, sweating and discomfort that mimics heartburn.

9. Laughing is good for your heart.

Studies have shown that your blood vessels relax when you’re laughing, which sends 20% more blood through your body.This means that your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.

10. The heart works twice as hard as the leg muscles of a sprinter.

It takes a lot of force to move your blood around your body, which is why a strong, healthy heart is so important..

11. Sneezing does not stop your heart.

Contrary to popular belief, sneezing does not stop your heart or make it “skip a beat.” It can, however, briefly change your heart’s rhythm. The only time your heart stops is during cardiac arrest.

12. Your aorta is as large as a garden hose.

The biggest artery in your body, the aorta, runs from your heart to your belly. It carries the most blood and is also the most common site for problems like aneurysms.

13. A “broken heart” can feel like a heart attack.

Intense and sudden feelings of sadness can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. Stress hormones are released into the body and can cause chest pain and shortness of breath.

14. Some capillaries are ten times smaller than a human hair.

They are so small that blood cells have to travel single-file through them. Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged through the very thin walls of the capillaries. 

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