This week we are featuring the American Heart Association as they have shared the following informational guest blog post to help us keep our hearts strong and healthy!
Seven Simple Steps to a Healthier Heart
Getting and maintaining a healthy heart is vital to living a long and active life. Many people mistakenly believe that heart health is a goal they can’t obtain, but all it takes are a few simple changes to your everyday habits to be on the road to feeling better and living longer.
Visit MyLifeCheck.org to see how you’re doing right now in terms of a healthy heart and get tips on keeping that ticker going strong for years to come!
Get active. Just 30 minutes of physical activity everyday is enough to keep your heart, body and mind healthy. Play with your kids, walk the dog or so some quick laps around the office at lunch – find a way to work 20 minutes of movement into your day!
Control cholesterol. Know your numbers and get your cholesterol checked. A cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL or higher puts you in a high-risk category and is cause to take action.
Eat better. Aim for getting in more vegetables and fruits. They are high in vitamins, minerals and fiber — and they’re low in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight and your blood pressure.
Manage blood pressure. By keeping your blood pressure in the healthy range (less than 120 mm Hg systolic AND less than 80 mm Hg diastolic), you are: Reducing your risk of your vascular walls becoming overstretched and injured, reducing your risk of your heart having to pump harder to compensate for blockages, protecting your entire body so that your tissue receives regular supplies of blood that is rich in the oxygen it needs.
Lose weight. 145 million Americans are overweight or obese. If you have too much fat — especially if a lot of it is at your waist — you’re at higher risk for such health problems as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes.
Reduce blood sugar. The American Heart Association considers diabetes and high blood sugar one of the six major controllable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In fact, adults with diabetes are two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than adults without diabetes.
Stop smoking. Smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. Smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries — which can lead to coronary heart disease, heart attack (myocardial infarction) and stroke. Controlling or reversing atherosclerosis is an important part of preventing future heart attack or stroke.
CPR: Saving a Life is In Your Hands
In October 2009, the American Heart Association announced the first major changes to it’s guidelines for CPR in 40 years. Rather than following the A-B-Cs of CPR (checking for airway blockages, starting breathing and the chest compressions), the association now recommends practicing the C-A-Bs of CPR: first, call 9-1-1 then begin hard and fast chest compressions to the beat of the BeeGee’s Stayin’ Alive. Then, tilt the victims head back to clear breathing obstructions and finally, do mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing.
Through thorough research, the association found that beginning chest compressions early leads to greater survival rates. It also makes the life-saving practice more accessible to those not formally trained.
Less than one-third of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR. Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Last year, the American Heart Association trained more than 13 million people in CPR worldwide, including healthcare professionals and the general public.
Could you save a life?
May is American Stroke Month and the American Stroke Association wants you to be armed with the life-saving knowledge you need to recognize and react to a stroke. African Americans are almost twice as likely to have a first-ever stroke compared to Caucasians and more than 17,045 blacks die from stroke each year.
Stroke is a medical emergency. If a stroke doesn’t kill you, it may leave you physically or mentally disabled.
What causes strokes?
Strokes are a form of cardiovascular disease. A stroke affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.
Family history and race are major risk factors for stroke. If your parent, grandparent, brother or sister has had a stroke, your risk of having one is greater. It’s imperative that we share this message with our families!
What does a stroke look like?
Every minute matters with strokes. Know these warning signs of a stroke, and teach them to others.
Warning signs include sudden:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Difficulty walking
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
What can I do if someone is having a stroke?
In the past, doctors couldn’t do much to help stroke victims. That’s not true today. Now stroke doesn’t have to lead to disability or death. The key is to recognize a stroke and get to the hospital immediately. The clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can reduce long-term disability if it’s given within three hours after an ischemic stroke starts. (Ischemic strokes are caused by clots and are by far the most common type of stroke.)
Unfortunately, tPA isn’t used as often as it could be because many people don’t seek care quickly. Don’t you make that mistake. If you or someone near you has the warning signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Visit www.PowerToEndStroke.org to learn more about what you can do to prevent stroke.