The Heart of the Matter
Feb 4, 2016 by Sarah Goodman | Lifestyle
It's Heart Month! The heart is vitally responsible for just about everything that gives your body life, so make sure your heart is healthy- for Heart Month and every other month of your life! Here are some things to keep an eye on:
Regulate Blood Pressure
The harder your heart works, the more pressure is placed on the walls of your arteries. Excess fat in the body can increase the work your heart has to do to pump blood through your body. There is also a heart/head connection that not many people realize:
"The one factor that is the strongest predictor of brain health is high blood pressure. It's the most significant risk factor for stroke. It also has the most evidence suggesting that it leads to blockages of small arteries and impaired brain health." – Dr. Ralph Sacco, MD, and Past President of AHA
Check your blood pressure at home using a blood pressure monitor and get a doctor or nurse to check its accuracy when you're at the clinic.
Control Cholesterol Levels
Bad cholesterol can build up in the bloodstream and calcify into hard plaque, which makes it difficult for blood to circulate through these affected arteries. The Canadian Heart & Stroke Foundation recommends you test your cholesterol with your Doctor if:
- You are male and over 40.
- You are female and over 50 or post-menopausal.
- You have heart disease, stroke, diabetes or high blood pressure.
- Your waist measures more than 102 centimetres (40 inches) for men or 88 centimetres (35 inches) for women. For persons of Chinese or South Asian descent, if your waist measures more than 90 centimetres (35 inches) for men or 80 centimetres (32 inches) for women.
- You have a family history of heart disease or stroke.
Maintain Good Circulation
Circulation transports oxygen and nutrient-rich blood through your arteries to your organs, tissues and cells. It also helps to remove waste substances like carbon dioxide and lactic acid. Circulation can be bad if you have high blood pressure or a lot of plaque build-up, among other factors. A quick check: squeeze your fingertips and toes and see how quickly they return to normal color- if you have healthy circulation the color should return to normal within a couple seconds.
Monitor Aortic Stiffness
Aortic stiffness occurs as a consequence of biological aging and the thickening, hardening and loss of elasticity of the walls of the arteries.
"Increased stiffness of the Aorta is an indication of stiffness throughout the chest and abdominal cavities. Most of the vital organs sustaining human life reside in these cavities. Vital organs rely on physical movement for optimal circulation of fluids within each organ. This internal organ circulation allows each organ to function and to maintain health. With increased stiffness of the spine and great cavities, there is decreased overall movement and less internal organ circulation, leading to less than optimal organ function and a decline in overall health." – Dr. Jess Goodman, MD
Until recently, you needed equipment costing thousands of dollars and a certified technician to administer a test on aortic stiffness. Now you can monitor your aortic stiffness at home with the iHeart device.
Spread the Word About Heart Month
February was designated Heart Month by the Heart & Stroke Foundation and the American Heart Association as a key opportunity to reach millions of North Americans in February and alert them to the risks of heart disease and stroke.
"Cardiovascular diseases are the number 1 cause of death globally: more people die annually from Cardiovascular diseases than from any other cause" – World Health Organization
Follow our blog for tips on how to increase heart health. Check out the Heart & Stroke Foundation and American Heart Association's Healthy Living information to help you get active, and stay active, for life.