Keeping your heart healthy
By Clare Shaughnessy (HEW)
Did you know February is designated as American Heart Month? Since 1964, this annual event has helped to increase awareness of cardiovascular disease and provide education on how to prevent it.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, as well as the global leading cause of death. In the U.S. about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. Globally, more than 17.3 million deaths are due to cardiovascular disease, and that number is predicted to increase to 20.3 million deaths per year by 2030, according to the American Heart Association.
Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, occurring when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. Eventually blood flow to the heart is inhibited, leading to decreased oxygen, chest pain (angina) and heart attack. Another common type of heart disease is heart failure. Over time, the heart muscles become weak and tired, resulting in swelling or stiffening of the heart and irregular heart rhythm. Heart failure can develop due to years of untreated high blood pressure.
To help keep your heart healthy, eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, manage stress, get enough sleep and quit smoking (smoking is the most significant heart disease risk in younger people).
Here are some tips for everyday heart health:
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables (eat the rainbow!), whole grains, nuts, legumes, low-fat dairy products, skinless poultry and fish and use non-tropical vegetable oil.
- Check out the Nutrition Guide in Virgin Pulse
- Try the SelfHelpWorks online course, Living Lean, on mindful eating.
If you have known cardiovascular disease or any chronic medical condition, check with your health care provider before starting any new exercise program.
- Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (exercise that increases your heart rate and allows you to break a sweat — such as walking, doubles tennis, water aerobics or yardwork) at least five days per week for a total of 150 minutes per week. Short on time or just prefer more intense exercise? Try 25 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity (exercise that quickly raises your heart rate and during which it is difficult to hold a conversation — such as running, basketball, biking uphill, singles tennis or interval training) for at least three days per week for a total of 75 minutes a week.
- Moderate- to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least two days per week will result in additional health benefits.
- Try the SelfHelpWorks online course, Living Fit, on getting started with exercise.
- Don’t forget Argonne has a free, 24/7 Fitness Center.
- Participate in yoga, meditation (free classes offered onsite), journaling, exercise and consider counseling (our Employee Assistance Program is a great, free, confidential resource).
- Try the SelfHelpWorks online course on stress management, Living Easy.
- Get at least seven hours of sleep each night by practicing good sleep habits.
- Learn more about good sleep using the Sleep Guide in Virgin Pulse.