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Homewatch CareGivers Blog

You Gotta Have Heart

by Homewatch CareGivers | Jan 26, 2015
February is National Heart Month, and during this month is also a single day, National Wear Red Day on Feb. 6, to bring attention to the facts about heart disease in women.

Heart Health Photo

With St. Valentine’s Day in February it is not only the time not for making hearts flutter with thoughts of romance, but also raising awareness for healthy hearts. February is National Heart Month, and during this month is also a single day, National Wear Red Day on Feb. 6, to bring attention to the facts about heart disease in women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 deaths in the United States each year is caused by heart disease and the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity totals $108.9 billion annually. Now that hospitals are being fined for exceeding readmission percentages for people with certain diseases, including heart disease, there is more incentive to have a healthy heart.

“It’s a changing playing field,” said Robert Bonow, MD, past president of the American Heart Association and national spokesman and the Goldberg Distinguished Professor of Cardiology, Director, Center for Cardiovascular Innovation, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “We used to see 28 percent readmission rate, and a lot of hospitals now are reporting declining numbers because of penalties.” 

The reasons for a hospital readmission for a patient with heart disease may be a medication mixup, an unrelated chronic condition, or a fall in the home, Dr. Bonow explained.

I Heart You

The first step is to do what you can to prevent getting heart disease. The CDC lists the risk factors for heart disease as high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking as well as diabetes, obesity, a poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.

Quitting smoking, going for daily walks, staying on medication to decrease blood pressure, and eating a healthy diet are some ways to maintain a healthy heart.

The American Heart Association recommends heart healthy foods, including:

  1. Salmon

    This delicious pink fish is full of Omega-3 fatty acids. According to the American Heart Association, omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), which can lead to sudden death, and they also decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and can even lower blood pressure a little bit.

  2. Blueberries

    The health benefits of blueberries cannot be overstated. These little blue wonders have the following: beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids); anthocyanin (a flavonoid); ellagic acid (a polyphenol); vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber.

  3. Dark Chocolate

    Flavonoids reservatrol and cocoa phenols in chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content are good for the heart. Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association reported that “dark chocolate induces coronary vasodilation, improves coronary vascular function, and decreases platelet adhesion 2 hours after consumption.”

  4. Almonds

    These tree nuts have omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Almonds help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and are certified by the American Heart Association as a heart-healthy food.

  5. Red bell peppers

Vegetables are good for all of you, not just your heart. Red bell peppers have beta-carotene and lutein (carotenoids), B-complex vitamins, folate, potassium and fiber.

Visit the American Heart Association’s website, www.heart.org, for tips on grocery lists and meal planning for a heart-healthy diet.

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

If you’re headed to the grocery story on Feb. 6, plan to wear red and bring attention to the fact that many women may be unaware they are at risk for heart disease.

 There are many ways to get involved in Go Red For Women—either by wearing red or helping raise money for research or scheduling a checkup for yourself.

The CDC states that, “almost two-thirds of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease have no previous symptoms.” Heart disease is sometimes called the “Silent Killer” for this reason.

The goal of this campaign is to educate women about the cardiovascular risk and provide information about they can live healthier lives and reduce their risks for heart disease. The Go Red For Women website has a place for donations that will go towards medical research and community programs to benefit heart health.

Anyone can participate in National Wear Red Day®. Visit the Go Red For Women website to get details on fundraising and raising awareness in your own community.