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American Heart Month 2017

By Dr. Samuel Ascioti

American Heart Month 2017There’s a special holiday in the heart of the cold month of February that conjures up visions of romance (and, for some, dread!): Valentine’s Day. Shops and towns nationwide prominently feature Valentine’s Day decorations, and many use a picture of a heart to represent love. February also has another special meaning for the heart - it’s American Heart Month! In recognition of American Heart Month 2017, we’ll be discussing heart health and ways to keep the heart healthy and strong.

Human beings are a wide and varied bunch, and the human body can do amazing things in the absence of limbs or certain organs. For example, only one kidney is needed to have a functioning renal system. Your liver can regenerate itself, up to a point. Fantastic athletic achievements have been accomplished by those with physical limitations. However, one organ is absolutely vital to maintaining life: the heart.

Drawing of Heart OrganThe heart is a powerful, muscular organ responsible for pumping blood through blood vessels in a human’s circulatory system. Blood helps provide the cells of the body with nutrients and oxygen, and removes metabolic waste that has built up.

As a person lives his life, certain life choices and activities can either help make the heart stronger or cause the heart to stop functioning with efficiency. Over time, these effects can have a tremendous impact on that person’s health, either positively or negatively. For some, heart disease is the end-result of a combination of factors affecting heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women; every year, about 610,000 Americans die from heart disease, the most common type being coronary artery disease (CAD) or coronary heart disease (CHD). CAD/CHD occurs when a person’s coronary arteries around the heart become narrowed or blocked due to a buildup of fatty material and cholesterol inside the artery - this buildup is called plaque.

Sometimes, there can be so much plaque in the arteries that the plaque reduces blood flow to the heart and results in chest pain, called angina. If there’s a complete block of the artery, a heart attack can occur.

Don't SmokeAccording to the United States Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, plaque buildup is caused by:

Stress, anxiety, and being overweight/obese also contributes to the potential for heart disease.

Addressing the above issues with your chiropractor and primary care physician can go a long way in reducing your risk of developing heart conditions!

What Can I Do About It?

Get regular exerciseKeeping the heart strong and active is an extremely important part in overall health, especially so in the winter. Regular exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease! For many, getting regular exercise is easier when the outside temperature is more comfortable - who wouldn’t want to go for a nice relaxing bike ride or walk when it’s 72 degrees outside and sunny? When the cold winter months arrive and the daylight hours are shorter, many people stick to the indoors and may not get enough daily exercise to keep their heart active.

Whether indoors or outside, it is very important to try to get some form of exercise, for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. Walking is an easy, low-impact exercise that most people can do. According to Harvard Medical School, walking can improve an individual’s cholesterol, blood pressure, vascular stiffness, and mental stress, as well as promote healthy weight loss. For some, though, walking outside in the winter is not appealing, and may be downright dangerous at times if snow and ice present a risk of falling.

For the homebodies, the internet and a little space in your living room can be great resources for finding exercise programs to boost the heart’s health. Countless YouTube channels exist that can provide simple and easy exercise programs for beginners.

Here’s a simple video link to a beginner’s home cardio routine!

I also suggest trying some yoga, if you’re feeling adventurous!

Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetablesIn addition to getting enough exercise, the food you put into your body is just as important when it comes to keeping your heart healthy. Your diet should include plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, as well as lean meats/poultry/fish, healthy oils (such as extra virgin olive oil or canola oil), and whole grains.

Talk to your chiropractors at Corning Chiropractic Associates about what you can do to keep your heart healthy during the winter!

References For This Article:

Gillinov, A. M. (2016, January 20). 5 Things to Do Daily to Keep Your Heart Healthy. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/01/5-things-to-do-daily-to-keep-your-heart-healthy/

Heart Disease Facts. (2015, August 10). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm

Keep Your Heart Healthy. (2016, September 8). Retrieved January 29, 2017, from https://healthfinder.gov/healthtopics/category/health-conditions-and-diseases/heart-health/keep-youR-heart-healthy

Publications, H. H. (2009, August). Walking: Your steps to health. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Walking-Your-steps-to-health

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