Be Smart Love Your Heart

February 8, 2018

Be Smart. Love Your Heart.
You get one heart. Treat it smart with a heart-healthy lifestyle.

By Siddharth Patel, Pediatric Cardiologist Jackson Purchase Medical Center

Your heart is one of the hardest working muscles you’ve got. It ticks around the clock to keep you alive and only gets a break when you’re relaxing or sleeping. With so much riding on this essential muscle, it’s important to treat it smart. According to the American Heart Association, one in four people die of heart disease every year. And it’s not playing favorites – heart disease is the number one killer of men and women. In fact, more women die of heart disease than from most cancers combined.

Children are also affected by congenital and acquired heart diseases. Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the number one birth defect and leading cause of birth defect related deaths worldwide. But awareness is low and that’s taking a toll. 1 in every 110 babies is born with CHD every year in the USA alone. Approximately 18 out of 10,000 babies are born with a critical congenital heart defect (CCHD). Nearly 40,000 infants in U.S. are born each year with CHDs. CHDs are as common as autism and about twenty five times more common than cystic fibrosis. CHDs kill twice as many children as childhood cancer.  Although some babies will be diagnosed at birth especially after wide spread use of CCHD pulse oximetry screening in nursery but it’s a screening tool and not always identify CHDs. Fetal echocardiography during pre-natal period is an excellent tool to identify CHDs when indicated. CHD awareness week is Feb 7-Feb 14. This is an annual awareness effort to help educate the public about congenital heart defects.

At Jackson Purchase Medical Center, it’s important for us to take care of our hearts so that we can take care of our patients’ hearts. And with this February marking American Heart Month, there’s no better time to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to keep your heart healthy for the long run. Preventing heart disease means making smart choices today that can pay off for the rest of your life. Anyone – at any age – can benefit from these simple steps:

Eat a healthy diet.
Eating a diet of lower-calorie, nutrient-rich foods can help you control your weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure, which helps lower your risk of heart disease. Fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish, and nuts and legumes; and limit your intake of foods with saturated fat, trans fats, sodium, sugar and red meat. If you do choose to eat red meat, make sure you’re using the leanest cut you can find.

Stay physically active.
Your activity level is actually your greatest potential risk factor. Low fitness levels come with double the risk of heart disease. The good news is that your heart benefits from every type of activity. Try to complete at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a combination of the two, every week. Most importantly, just keep moving!

Know your numbers.
A big part of staying on top of your heart health is being aware of your blood pressure and cholesterol levels and working to keep them at low-risk levels. Be sure to get your levels checked regularly and talk to your primary care doctor about your numbers and how to keep them within a healthy range. When you act early and make good heart health a priority, you can help reduce your risk for heart disease. Plus, you’ll be in a better position to catch any potential issues and work together with your doctor to keep your heart healthy for the long run.

Remember, you get one heart. Treat it smart!