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February is American Heart Month

There are many ways our hearts are affected that can cause heart attack or Cronic Heart Disease (CHD). Here are just a few of the health issues to watch out for and protect ourselves against to remain heart healthy. For more information contact your physician or the American Heart Association in your state.

High Blood Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

High blood cholesterol is a condition in which your blood has too much cholesterol—a waxy, fat-like substance. The higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and heart attack. Factors such as age, gender, diet, and physical activity also affect your cholesterol levels.

High Blood Pressure

“Blood pressure” is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup. All levels above 120/80 mm Hg raise your risk of CHD. This risk grows as blood pressure levels rise. Only one of the two blood pressure numbers have to be above normal to put you at greater risk of CHD and heart attack.

Diabetes and Prediabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body’s blood sugar level is too high. The two types of diabetes are type 1 and type 2. Over time, a high blood sugar level can lead to increased plaque buildup in your arteries. Having diabetes doubles your risk of CHD, Weight loss and physical activity also can help control diabetes.

Overweight and Obesity

The terms “overweight” and “obesity” refer to body weight that’s greater than what is considered healthy for a certain height. More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight, and almost one-third of these adults are obese. Being overweight or obese can raise your risk of CHD and heart attack.

Smoking

Smoking tobacco or long-term exposure to secondhand smoke raises your risk of CHD and heart attack. The more you smoke, the greater your risk of heart attack. The benefits of quitting smoking occur no matter how long or how much you’ve smoked. Heart disease risk associated with smoking begins to decrease soon after you quit, and for many people it continues to decrease over time.

Lack of Physical Activity

Inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop CHD as those who are active. A lack of physical activity can worsen other CHD risk factors, such as high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, diabetes and prediabetes, and overweight and obesity. Being physically active is one of the most important things you can do to keep your heart healthy. The good news is that even modest amounts of physical activity are good for your health. The more active you are, the more you will benefit.

Unhealthy Diet

An unhealthy diet can raise your risk of CHD. For example, foods that are high in saturated and trans fats and cholesterol raise LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Thus, you should try to limit these foods. It’s also important to limit foods that are high in sodium (salt) and added sugars. A high-salt diet can raise your risk of high blood pressure.

Stress

The most commonly reported trigger for a heart attack is an emotionally upsetting event, especially one involving anger. Stress also may indirectly raise your risk of CHD if it makes you more likely to smoke or overeat foods high in fat and sugar.

Age

In men, the risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) increases starting around age 45. In women, the risk for CHD increases starting around age 55.

Family History

A family history of early CHD is a risk factor for developing CHD, specifically if a father or brother is diagnosed before age 55, or a mother or sister is diagnosed before age 65.

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