February is American Heart Month | Take Control of Your Health!

Posted on February 21, 2020

February was proclaimed American Heart Month by president Lyndon B. Johnson on December 30th, 1963. He did this in order to bring awareness to cardiovascular disease, which was accountable for more than half of US deaths at the time. Heart disease can happen to anyone, not just older adults. Younger people today are actually at a higher risk due to the increase of obesity and high blood pressure among their age group.

Conditions and Behaviors that put you at risk for Heart Disease:

  1. High Blood Pressure– Millions of people of all ages have high blood pressure, but only half of those people have it under control. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease.
  2. High Cholesterol– Having diabetes, being obese, smoking, eating unhealthy foods and not getting enough physical activity all contribute to high cholesterol levels.
  3. Smoking– Smoking damages blood vessels and causes heart disease. In 2010, smoking (including second hand smoke) was 1 of the top 3 leading risk factors for disease worldwide. It contributed to approximately 6.2 million deaths.
  4. Obesity– More than 1 in 3 Americans and almost 1 in 6 children ages 6 to 19 are obese. This extra weight puts stress on the heart.
  5. Diabetes– Did you know 1 in 10 people have some form of diabetes? Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood which can damage the blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart. 68% of people aged 65 or older with diabetes will die from some form of heart disease. Adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to die from heart disease than adults without diabetes. The American Heart Association considers diabetes to be one of the 7 major controllable risk factors.
  6. Physical Inactivity– Being physically active keeps the heart and blood vessels healthy. It is recommended that you get 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity, which breaks down to at least 30 minutes a day. Studies show that increased levels of physical activity reduce the risk of many aging related diseases, including cardiovascular disease. It’s also important to maintain good exercise even if you’re someone who doesn’t have heart disease. Your chances over ever developing this disease will go way down.
  7. Unhealthy Eating– Many Americans eat too much salt, which increases blood pressure. Replacing high sodium foods with healthy fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. To learn more about heart healthy food options, click here.

Mental Health and It’s Connection to American Heart Month

Believe it or not anxiety and depression can affect overall heart health. Although a small amount of anxiety is completely normal, chronic anxiety with dramatic ups and downs can result in high blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances. Panic attacks can also become so severe that you have chest pain or palpitations that mimic a heart attack. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/anxiety-and-heart-disease-a-complex-connection

Good Oral Hygiene Can Prevent Heart Disease

At Cardinal Orthodontics, maintaining good oral hygiene is extremely important to us. Studies show that people who have advanced gum disease, are at a higher risk for developing heart disease. I know what you’re thinking, how are these two even related? Oral health and heart disease are connected by the spread of bacteria through the blood stream. When this bacteria reaches the heart, it can attach itself to any damaged area and begin causing inflammation.

Ways to Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

  • See your dentist 1-2 times a year for a dental cleaning and check-up
  • Brush a minimum of 2 times a day
  • Floss daily
  • Avoid using tobacco products
  • Use a toothpaste with fluoride

Help us celebrate American Heart Month by taking control of your health- it’s never too late! Here are some ways to get started:

  • Avoid smoking
  • Manage your medical conditions by working closely with your doctor
  • Make healthy eating choices
  • Stay active!
  • …and last but not least, maintain good oral hygiene!
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