We are going to talk about heart health to fit in with the month’s theme of love and Valentine’s Day.
Your heart functions as the centerpiece of your circulation system. The heart works to pump blood to your body, delivering the necessary oxygen and nutrients we need to live. Electrical signals control the beating of your heart. If you have ever been curious about why you are hooked up to an EKG, formally called an electrocardiogram, it is measuring the electrical activity of the heart to make sure everything is working as it should.
Heart disease can happen to anyone as it can have many different causes. Some risk factors for heart disease cannot be controlled, such as your age, gender and genetic background. Other risk factors are ones you can look at to make changes in your life to lessen your chances of facing heart disease.
What you can do to help lower your risk of heart disease:
• Get your blood pressure checked regularly and take steps to prevent or control high blood pressure.
• Check your cholesterol levels.
• Maintain a healthy weight.
• Choose foods that are healthy for you including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Limit foods that are high in saturated fats, sodium (salt) and added sugar.
• Find a way to be physically active most days. Choose activities that you enjoy doing such as walking, dancing or group classes so it doesn’t feel like a chore
• Limit your alcohol intake. This can raise your blood pressure and add calories to your daily intake.
• Stay away from tobacco products. Using tobacco products puts you at higher risk for a heart attack and stroke. Talk to your health care provider about a plan to quit.
• Manage your stress level. Find healthy ways to cope with the stress in your life. Options include listening to music, meditation or deep breathing, prayer, exercise, or doing an activity that brings you joy.
• Manage/Prevent Diabetes. If you have diabetes, high blood sugar levels can cause damage to your heart and blood vessels.
• Focus on getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Not getting quality rest that your body needs can raise your risk for heart disease.
This list may seem overwhelming to read and use to make changes in your life! Focus on one topic at first. Write down small, measurable goals for how you plan to make improvements in this part of your life. Allow these first successes to snowball into bigger changes for you.
One final note, if you have not participated in a CPR training class, please consider doing so now. Each year, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States. Seventy percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in our homes. Unfortunately, only about 46 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives according to the American Heart Association. To see when future classes are scheduled, contact Grays Harbor EMS and Trauma Care Council at (360) 532-2067 or the Grays Harbor YMCA at (360) 537-9622.
If you would like help in making health goals, talk with your primary care provider about getting a care coordination referral. We are here for you and would love to talk with you about keeping your heart happy and healthy.
Kristi Eilers, RN, MSN, is a Care Coordinator at Summit Pacific Medical Center in Elma.