Heart Health: Not just a personal problem!
Who should be worrying about heart health? What age should we begin to take care of our heart? These are questions that my family takes very seriously. In my family I have had two members over the age of 50 experience massive heart attacks due to multiple blockages in their arteries. Both survived with a quadruple bypass procedure that was followed by many months of rehabilitation, memory loss, and loss of body mass. This unfortunately is the case in many families across America. In 2011, the U.S. Center of Disease Control found that the leading cause of death was heart disease.
Heart disease is does not just affect one person. Families and communities are affected when a person suffers from critical illness caused by heart disease or fatal complications. There are many ways however that individuals, families, and communities can promote heart healthy people.
When my grandfather suffered his massive heart attack he faced a year of organized rehabilitation that not only affected my grandmother but also the whole family. I remember that if we had the flu or any other illness we were not able to visit my grandfather due to the higher risk he faced because of his weak heart. My grandfather was unable to complete many tasks that he normally performed around the house like cutting the lawn and working on his car and even driving. This put additional responsibilities on my family as a whole to help my grandmother take care of not only my grandfather that needed round the clock care but also take of their home. Could my grandfathers heart attack been prevented? Yes he at the time of his heart attack was considered obese for his height and had high cholesterol directly related to his eating habits. If my grandfather had taken the time to care for his heart he would have decreased his chances of having a massive heart attack.
There are several ways to increase the health of your heart and decrease the chance of heart disease. One of the best ways and probably the easiest way is control your diet. To promote a heart healthy diet a person should work toward a balanced diet. With the temptation of fast food around myself I find it hard to decrease my sodium, fat, and sugar intake. Fast food restaurants are a go-to when I am in a hurry. Burgers and fries, deep fried in fat are not part of a heart healthy diet. Going once in a great while is not a problem but going on a daily or more than a few times a week can cause weight gain and also put strain on your heart.
To promote a healthy heart a person must keep their sodium, fat, and sugar intake at a minimum. Families can promote healthy hearts by purchasing and preparing foods that promote a healthy diet. Schools and parents should begin to promote heart healthy eating habits in children at a young age. By promoting these healthy eating habits in children at a young age they will carry these habits through to adult hood.
Another great way to promote a healthy heart is thorough physical activity and exercise. Physical activity can provide a lower blood pressure, improved mental wellness, decrease stress and tension, and improved blood circulation. I personally try to add 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. This gives me more energy and helps me decrease my stress level that comes from being a full time employee and full time student at the same time. With this short amount of time I am strengthening my heart and doing my part to get to a better state of wellness.
As a community we can come together and organize healthy eating classes and fun physical activities to do as individuals and families. I believe that in order to combat heart disease we must come together and create a community that will encourage people of all ages to do their part in fighting for healthy hearts and healthy living. One program that is doing their part in encouraging healthy hearts and healthy living is the NFL Play 60 program. This program promotes people of all ages to get active for at least 60 minutes per day. This program is fighting the fight against obesity, an illness that can cause heart disease. If we in the community work together we can promote heart healthy communities.
Heart disease is not an illness that an individual can face alone. They must have community around them supporting them in every aspect in reducing risk factors and rehabilitation. Together with education we can win the fight against preventable heart disease by encouraging healthy living.
United States of America. Center of Disease Control. Division of Vital Statistics. Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2011. Comp. Donna L. Hoyert, Ph.D and Jaiquan Xu, M.D. US Department of Health and Human Services, 10 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.