February is American Heart Month.
Here are some quick facts about the fascinating organ called the heart that keeps all of us going:
- It beats over 100,000 times per day.
- It pumps about 1.5 gallons of blood every minute
- We have 60,000 miles of blood vessels in our bodies (that’s more than Earth’s circumference!)
- Before a baby is born, their heart has a natural hole between the upper chambers, called a foramen ovale. This hole normally closes after birth then becoming the fossa ovalis.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD for short) remains the leading cause of death in the US, accounting for 928,741 deaths in 2020 (Heart.org). Coronary Heart Disease is the leading cause of CVD deaths, followed by stroke, high blood pressure, heart failure, and diseases of the arteries.
In most cases, CVD is a preventable side effect of other conditions, often environmental or dietary. Stress, the use of tobacco, poor diet, metabolic diseases, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and alcohol consumption are all factors that can lead to diseases of the heart, arteries, lungs, and brain.
Collectively, we can help prevent these diseases by educating ourselves and our friends/family about the aforementioned causes of CVD and by cultivating an environment of health, knowledge, and care in our daily lives. Here are some ideas to help get you started:
- Attend a CPR class at a local venue (the Y offers CPR classes and other safety courses)
- Create a social group around walking, exercise, or eating heart healthy foods
- Participate in a wellness challenge (the Y will be running a wellness challenge in March – stay tuned for more information!)
- Connect with your health provider to identify your potential risks and an appropriate treatment plan
- Communicate with your family regarding hereditary conditions and how best to manage them
- Learn how to identify the signs, risks, and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, and how to identify and respond to a potential cardiac emergency
Looking to start improving your own heart health right now? Get up and go for a walk, eat a whole food snack, or chat about your plan with a friend, healthcare provider, or family member. It only takes one small change to start a cascade of positive effects. Your heart will thank you! ♥️
Written by Kali Archipley. Kali is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, a Strength & Conditioning Coach & Group Fitness Instructor, Competitive Powerlifter & WA State record holder, and US Navy Veteran. She teaches Strength Circuit on Tuesdays and Thursdays.