Taking Care Of Your Ticker
February is National Heart Health month, so it’s a good time to check in and evaluate whether or not you are doing everything you can for a happy, healthy heart. According to the CDC, heart disease is the number one cause of death for the majority of Americans and uncontrolled high blood pressure is the number one cause of heart disease and stroke.
Heart Disease Risk Factors
The statistics regarding death, disability, and reduced quality of life due to various forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD) are staggering, as you can see in the Healthline infographic below:
According to the National Institutes of Health, obesity, poor diet, smoking, and inactivity can all contribute to an increased risk for CVD, leading to massive problems like stroke, heart attacks, and heart failure. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes and pre-diabetes, family history of heart disease, age, and high cholesterol.
How to Lower Your Risk for Heart Attacks, Strokes, and Other Heart-Related Health Problems
While family history, age, or a pre-existing condition like diabetes are not always possible to correct, reducing your overall risk usually only requires commitment and follow-through.
- Heart-healthy foods
Changing your diet to include more heart healthy food may be as simple as trading out one regular meal a week for something lighter, like having fish and vegetables instead of spaghetti and garlic bread. Arteries that have plaque build-ups (which reduce blood flow and can increase blood pressure) can be instigated or worsened by diets high in saturated and trans fats, so it might be worth it to go through the pantry and toss the regular offenders that are tempting you to sabotage a heart healthy lifestyle. Prepackaged snack foods like cakes, crackers, cookies, pies, and frostings are often full of unhealthy fats. That doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat these things, but keeping them in the house regularly probably isn’t a good plan. Instead, be sure to stock healthier, unprocessed snacks, like fruit, baby carrots, hummus, trail mix that isn’t full of candy, and other natural, easy-to-grab foods that match your lifestyle needs.
- Being active
Exercise and active hobbies are an important part of maintaining a healthy weight. Because obesity is a very significant risk factor for heart disease, building time into your schedule to do aerobic and anaerobic activity 3-5 times weekly (aiming for 30-45 minutes of continuous activity) can make a significant difference. If you have struggled with maintaining a healthy weight, it is best to start more slowly, for example, walking for 20-40 minutes 3-5 times per week. Make it quality time by going with your partner, children, or pet or by calling a friend while you walk. Exercising with others is a great form of accountability and can make the process more fun as well.
- Stress less
Stress can be a major trigger point for heart attacks according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Oftentimes we have learned habits that cause us to rely on stress as a way of life, either for getting things done, relating to our family and friends or as a response to feeling like we don’t have control of our circumstances. There are several ways of breaking this habit, however, and replacing it with more healthy ways of thinking and relating to others. A few ideas for managing stress include having a few counseling sessions with your spouse or family focused on healthy, proactive communication; staying connected to your religious community through regular attendance at weekly gatherings; meditation; deep breathing practices; and relaxing exercises like yoga or other low impact, focus-enhancing workouts.
Can Chiropractic Care Help Play a Role in Reducing the Risk for Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure Management?
When working towards the prevention of heart disease, it is important to consider your individual risk factors. Both high blood pressure and reduced autonomic nervous activity can have adverse effects on heart health. Chiropractic care has been shown in some cases to reduce blood pressure. There are scientific studies and many articles discussing chiropractic care and its potential to work in cooperation with other treatments to reduce high blood pressure. According to Wolfson Integrative Cardiology, “The heart and blood vessels are connected to the central nervous system by millions of tiny connections. One major attachment is the vagus nerve (which comes from the brain) and the autonomic nervous system (which has input into the entire body). These nerves control heart rate and blood pressure, both essential factors for heart health. And although chiropractic is not a cure for heart disease and high blood pressure, it does positively impact these nerves, so clients may experience benefits related to heart health.”
We’re Here to Help
Our doctors of chiropractic are trained to identify and expertly adjust subtle misalignments in the spinal bones that can put pressure on the nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to major organs and systems. This release of pressure may aid in lowering blood pressure, increasing nervous system health, and helping you stay active and pain-free. If you are looking to establish a routine that promotes heart health, we’re here to help. Just give us a call and set up an appointment at any of our eleven locations, where one of our doctors would be happy to talk with you about how chiropractic might help reduce your risk for heart disease.
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