Follow your heart, but take your brain with you

Love is in the air all month as we celebrate heart month, but it’s always the right time to get a pulse of your heart health and encourage those you love to do the same. 

Listen to your heart and know what to watch for

There are many symptoms that indicate heart disease; unfortunately, they’re not all the same for all people. While some people experience extreme pain that’s more indicative of a heart attack, others’ symptoms are mild. In fact, some patients may only learn that they’ve suffered heart trauma after they’ve received a screening. Because it can vary so drastically, it’s critical to maintain regular health visits and talk to your provider—especially if heart disease runs in your family.

Heart disease—and heart attack—signs vary but may include:

  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Swelling in the lower extremities
  • Excessive coughing can also be signs of heart failure

Take charge of your heart health

As common as heart disease is—and yes, some is hereditary—your lifestyle choices make a huge impact on your heart health; there’s a lot you can do to prevent becoming a statistic. And while some things seem rather basic, never underestimate the impact that even the simplest things can make to prevent very complex health problems.

Simple lifestyle changes to take to heart:

Eat a heart-healthy diet. Choosing a diet that is low in fat and cholesterol, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, is an easy modification to make—but it’s so important to your overall heart health. With so many resources available—from recipes online, to blogs to help keep you motivated—to apps that can help track your food choices, it’s a great time to utilize tools that work best for you. Visit your bookstore or library and find books that speak to you—with healthy recipes and ideas—to make eating healthy fun and easier than you think. And use local resources and experts—right here at Howard Memorial Hospital.

Denise Graves is HMH’s registered dietician and is as passionate about continued learning about health and nutrition as she is about educating others and helping people live healthier, happier lives. From providing a personalized assessment to learn about your lifestyle and health goals, to creating plans customized to help you succeed and reach your goals, ask your provider about this invaluable resource, right here at Howard Memorial Hospital.

Get moving. Like all muscles, the more you use your heart, the stronger and healthier it becomes. Getting proper exercise—aim for an hour and a half each week—is easier than you think. Whatever you can do to get your heart pumping—from a brisk walk outside, to time on a stationary bike—or perhaps swimming or aquatic exercises if you have joint stress or other pain—incorporate exercise and movement into your life. Even the smallest steps—pun intended—will help your heart grow in health and strength.

Diabetes and heart health go hand in hand. Diabetes is one of the most dangerous chronic illness in the United States and is particularly prevalent right here in Arkansas. Not only does diabetes have its own serious health consequences such as blindness, loss of limbs and other very serious health dangers, it also directly impacts your heart health. This makes people with both diabetes and heart disease have an even greater risk of death or other serious health conditions.  So, it makes sense that taking control of diabetes also improves your heart health as well. Learn more about the correlation between heart disease and diabetes, in our recent blog: Diabetes and Heart Health Go Hand in Hand.

Your whole heart—get a closer look.

As with most health concerns, the best place to start is with a visit to your primary care provider—and be honest. He or she is there to help you—you’re going there for a services really—so talk about any concerns you have about heart disease, discuss if you have a health history of the disease, or you’re your provider about symptoms you’ve had—or are having.

From the latest in advanced cardiac imaging technology to get a better picture of your heart health, to a dedicated cardiac rehabilitation team to speed your recovery, Howard Memorial is here with you every step of the way. Make this—and every month—heart month; take control of your cardiac health today!

Posted in:  Cardiology, Health