Getting to the Heart of the Matter – It’s never too late to improve heart health!

Thursday, 02 February 2023 10:22

Getting to the Heart of the Matter – It’s never too late to improve heart health! Featured

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FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia – (February 2, 2023) – February is American Heart Month, making it a great time to put our most important muscle in the spotlight. This amazing organ beats around 100,000 times each day, allowing us to continue throughout our day. Until it doesn’t. The facts surrounding heart disease, the leading cause of death in America, are astounding. The good news is that the more we know about heart health, the more we can take action to improve ours, regardless of age.

“Our beating heart is often taken for granted until we have problems,” explains Jennifer Scherer, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “This is a muscle that we cannot ignore. We have to make caring for it a priority.”

Choose another muscle in the body, and there is a good chance we can live without it, but we can't live without our heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in America has a heart attack every 40 seconds, and every 34 seconds, someone dies of cardiovascular disease. They estimate that each year, around 850,000 people in the country have a heart attack.

If we live a healthy lifestyle, we will keep our hearts healthier. Being that the heart is a muscle, we must keep it healthy by using it. When we don't, it becomes weaker and stiffer until it eventually stops working. Many people may feel that they let too many years go by where they were sedentary and didn't take care of their health, so it's too late. The good news is that there is always time. Even older adults can gain heart health benefits from making healthy lifestyle changes.

There isn’t one magic thing that will keep a heart healthy. It’s more a recipe of things that come together to create an ideal situation that supports and nurtures a healthy heart. Some tests can be done to assess heart health conditions, giving people an idea of where they are as they begin their journey toward healthy living.

Here are some of the essential things needed to have a healthier heart at any age:

  • Movement. There's no other way to put it other than to say that being sedentary leads to an unhealthy heart. To have a healthy heart, we must move daily, getting exercise that includes cardio. Aim to be more active regularly, even if it means walking around the block.
  • Nutrition. It's undeniable the role that diet plays in our health. As it's often said, food can either be medicine or a slow form of poison. What we eat can make our arteries healthier or ultimately lead to their harm. The CDC advises eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. They also recommend eating less salt, saturated fats, and added sugar.
  • Weight. Being overweight or obese strains the heart and causes other unhealthy conditions. One way to help protect the heart is to maintain a healthy weight. According to the National Institutes of Health, even losing 5-10% of one's body weight has improved overall health, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. 
  • Curb stress. According to the American Heart Association, stress may lead to high blood pressure, which can pose a risk for a heart attack or stroke. Find ways to reduce stress, such as meditating, spending time in nature, journaling, etc.
  • Drinking and smoking. Excessive drinking of alcohol and smoking can lead to an unhealthy heart. Cutting back or eliminating these things can positively impact the heart.
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