Heart Health Month: The Importance of Cardiovascular Health
If you know anything about cars, you know the engine is literally the driving force. Through complex mechanics it uses gasoline, oil, and even plain old air to put everything into motion. That makes the wheels turn so the car can propel forward nearly endlessly. That is, if the car is properly maintained. However, if a car is neglected old cruddy oil will build up, the tires will wear thin, and eventually the gasoline will run out. That car cannot go anywhere, and if it is neglected for too long, it may be irreparable. Fortunately, a new car can be purchased to get back on the road again.
Your heart is the engine of your body. It takes liquids, nutrients, and plain old air, and pumps those to the body through your bloodstream. That empowers all your organs and muscles to do their work. It is what keeps you going and frankly what keeps you alive. Unlike a car, you get one heart, and it works all day every day to do its work. This makes heart health incredibly important and in recent years, the medical field has become increasingly aware of the myriad effects poor heart health can have on overall health.
In an effort to promote positive choices for heart health, February has been named Heart Health Month by the American Heart Association. Although it is wise to take steps every day for heart health, this is the perfect time to step back and take stock of your heart health behaviors. Read on to learn more:
Effects of Poor Heart Health
Research shows that poor cardiovascular health can cause several concerning ailments. Heart and cardiovascular disease involve symptoms such as chest pain, tightness, pressure, and shortness of breath. When the blood vessels have been affected, symptoms of pain, numbness, and weakness in the extremities can also occur. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are often seen in individuals with poor heart health. Some individuals experience heart attacks and even strokes due to poor heart health.
Causes of Poor Heart Health
Genetics, diet, lack of physical activity, and stress can all contribute to poor heart health. Some people may attribute the occurrence of these factors to lifestyle ‘choices,’ but oftentimes they are outside of anyone’s control. A poor childhood and even adult diet may be attributed to income level. Limited physical activity may be attributed to other health problems and mobility issues. While no one can change the conditions of their past, they can make healthy choices starting today to improve their health situation.
Improving Heart Health
If you want to improve your heart health, you can start to shift those factors that often contribute to poor heart health. If your diet is high in fats and sugars, incorporate more whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. If you are inactive, look for ways to be more active. If health or mobility issues limit you, consult with your doctor or a movement specialist (such as a physical or occupational therapist) for safe, effective ways to incorporate activity into your daily life. If your level of stress is excessive, look for ways to reduce it.
Managing Heart Health
Now, if you have already been advised of a heart condition, then your approach will be less about prevention and more about treatment. You want to do what you can to manage your symptoms and slow the escalation of the condition. Of course, your doctor may have recommendations tailored to your unique situation and needs, including prescribing medications. It is likely you may need to alter your diet and incorporate more activity into your daily life. For older adults, these changes can seem daunting.
For most people, change is difficult, and the older people get, the more engrained their habits become. When asked to change your diet and lifestyle, you may be perfectly willing, but you may need some help actually implementing those changes. For this reason, many older adults with heart conditions, elect to move into assisted living. In this setting, they can get the lifestyle and medical support they need, while also being in a new environment where it is easier to implement heart healthy choices.
In assisted living, aging adults still have a high degree of independence, with apartment-style residences. Yet, they also have trained staff to assist with medication management and to monitor their daily health. On-site chefs prepare meals that are nutritionally sound for the population, while also keeping in mind that most people will not eat a meal unless it looks and tastes appealing. A variety of daily activities are offered which allow residents to be both mentally and physically active, while connecting with friends.
If you have heart health concerns, of course, the first step is to visit your doctor and follow their recommendations. Then, consider looking into the advantages of assisted living. Locations such as Quail Park Communities offer residents a range of services and amenities, to meet each person’s unique combination of preferences and needs. This allows residents to move in and then age in place. Consider visiting your local Quail Park location and discussing how their services can meet your health needs.