This February is the 54th American Heart Month, a federally designated month which was established by Lyndon B. Johnson back in 1964. At that time more than half of U.S. deaths were from some form of cardiovascular disease. Although the overall percentage of deaths has gone down over the years, cardiovascular diseases still account for about 1 in 3 deaths in the U.S. even today. That is over 800,000 deaths per year.
In addition, over 92 million Americans currently live with some form of cardiovascular disease or the aftermath of a stroke, and is estimated to cost us over $316 billion dollars each year in health costs and lost productivity. So, heart disease is still a huge problem in our country, and still the number one cause of death. So, what can we do about it?
This is especially important if you are overweight or obese, but anyone can make a simple diet change to improve heart health. For example, try substituting spices such as garlic powder, fresh ground pepper or salt-free herb blends to season your food instead of salt. Or eat fruit instead of a sugary sweet as an afternoon snack.
A brisk 30-minute walk several days a week can have tremendous health benefit to your heart. Taking a noon day walk in the sun can give you even more benefit by producing vitamin D. (See below)
Studies have shown that vitamin D helps regulate blood pressure, so add some foods rich in vitamin D such as tuna, salmon, eggs or mushrooms to your diet, take a vitamin D supplement, or (better yet) get some sun. You can produce up to 10,000 IUs of vitamin D by spending as little as 10 minutes out in the noon-day sun–without sunscreen– in shorts and a tank top. If you are dark skinned or a senior you may need more time in the sun to get a similar result.
Bananas are low in calories and high in beneficial nutrients such potassium and magnesium which are both good for the heart. Potassium helps balance the sodium in your cells. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure, improve blood vessel function and reduce the risk of developing arrhythmias.
Many studies have proven that meditation helps manage stress which is a risk factor for hypertension. Coping with increased amounts of stress might lead to behaviors that might compound risk factors for heart disease by coping with the stress by smoking, overeating or drinking to excess–all significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Another way to celebrate American Heart Month is to let one of our cardiology doctors or other health professionals help you with EKG services, a pacemaker check or provide hypertension care. Simply complete our short online form, by calling 1-866-983-9191, to schedule a same-day doctor’s appointment. We have 11 convenient locations in the South Florida area, and provide free transportation to medical services, so why not stop by and get some help for your heart.