The month of February makes many of us think of heart-shaped candies, jewelry, and gifts, but it’s also a time to think of another heart, as February is also American Heart Month.

American Heart Month is a nationally recognized time dedicated to heart health and raising awareness about heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, 48% or 121.5 million adults over the age of 20 are affected by a form of cardiovascular disease.

The heart is a vital organ, so you must be proactive in protecting it. To show our support for American Heart Month, our team at The Grove on Forest Lane is sharing information about heart disease and how you can live a heart-healthy lifestyle.

What is Heart Disease?

In order to support your heart health, you need to understand the basics of heart disease and how you can reduce your chances of developing a cardiovascular condition. The more you know, the better, so you should be aware of common types, risk factors, and symptoms.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada states, “heart disease is any condition that affects the structure or function of the heart. Most people think of heart disease as one condition. But in fact, heart disease is a group of conditions with many different root causes.”

Five common types of heart disease, according to Medical News Today, include:

  • Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease and occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart become clogged with plaque.
  • Arrhythmia refers to an irregular heartbeat; the heart beats either too quickly, slowly, or erratically.
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy occurs when the chambers of the heart become dilated, leading to the heart muscle stretching and becoming thinner.
  • Myocardial infarction (also called a heart attack) involves an interruption of blood flow to the heart and can cause damage to the heart muscle.
  • Congenital heart defects refer to a person born with a heart condition.

Risk Factors & Symptoms of Heart Disease

When you know which risk factors (if any) apply to you, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Some controllable risk factors include:

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity

There are many types of heart disease, but certain symptoms can be associated with any one of them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists common symptoms of heart disease as:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper back or neck pain
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations or fluttering feelings in the chest

Taking Control of Your Heart Health

Exercise Regularly

Physical inactivity is a common risk factor associated with heart disease. Getting enough exercise is simple yet effective way to decrease your chances of developing a cardiovascular condition and improve heart health.

“Being physically active is a major step toward good heart health. It’s one of your most effective tools for strengthening the heart muscle, keeping your weight under control and warding off the artery damage from high cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure that can lead to heart attack or stroke (Johns Hopkins Medicine).”

Consume a Heart-Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet benefits your overall wellness, including supporting heart health and decreasing your chances of developing heart disease.

Plant-based foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains nourish your body with the vitamins and nutrients it needs without adding the fats and cholesterol that can be bad for your heart. Additionally, avoiding saturated fats, salty foods, and fatty meats can help keep your cholesterol levels within the healthy range.

Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels

It can be difficult to know if your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are too high because they rarely exhibit any symptoms. However, regular check-ups with your doctor can help you make sure your levels remain in the healthy range.

If your blood pressure or cholesterol levels are high, your doctor will advise you on ways to lower them to within the healthy range.

All aspects of our health are connected. Prioritizing your heart health can go a long way in promoting overall wellness, longevity, and healthy aging.

The Grove on Forest Lane in Dallas, Texas, helps make leading an active and healthy lifestyle easy and convenient for older adults. If you want to learn more, we invite you to visit our website or contact a member of The Grove on Forest Lane team.