February is American Heart Month, and with heart disease becoming the leading cause of death for men and women, our Continuwell nurses thought it was extremely important to provide some facts and preventative heart health tips that can be beneficial to living a healthier lifestyle.
In America, 1 in every 4 deaths are from heart disease and every 42 seconds someone has a heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The impact of heart disease is also very expensive. The CDC estimates the annual overall cost of heart disease at $207 billion.
Many people believe that a heart attack could not happen to them. Continuwell nurses have seen many cases where callers believe that they have a mild issue, but they are actually having a heart attack. Those callers were instructed to seek emergent care. The longer you wait to take action on a heart condition, the more action will be needed to repair and recover. Conditions such as heartburn, the flu, or stomach ulcers can mimic heart attacks. Unusual sweating and fatigue are other symptoms that often go untreated. Since it is hard to evaluate yourself, it is important to have a medical professional that employees and members can speak to. Having a free Continuwell nurse to talk to ensures your employees call and get a trained medical professional to evaluate if the ER is needed or not. In a future article, we will present a case study of a Continuwell call with scenarios where callers would have completely missed the signs of a heart attack had they not called.
You and your employees can take charge of your health and begin a heart-healthy lifestyle that can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
Men and women can make a big difference in their heart health by taking these small steps during the month of February and throughout the year.
- Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health.It’s important to schedule regular check-ups, even if you think you are not sick. You can also call Continuwell nurses and doctors to discuss any concerns you have about your health, and figure out the best path to care.
- Add exercise to your daily routine. You can start out slow, with just a quick walk around the block, and gradually increase to longer walks or exercises with a higher intensity. Other ways to add exercise into your daily routine include taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking far away. If you spend much of your day sitting down, see our previous article for some simple exercises that can easily be done from behind your desk.
- Increase healthy eating. At least 3 times a week eat in and cook heart-healthy meals at home. Click here for some great recipes from the American Heart Association. Also try to swap out salt for fresh or dried herbs and spices. Your food won’t lose its flavor, and you’re making a small healthy decision that will make a huge impact.
- Take steps to quit smoking. Quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke. Learn more at CDC’s Smoking and Tobacco Use website .
- Take medication as prescribed. Talk with your doctor, or a Continuwell doctor, about medication options, side effects, and concerns.
- Know your risk factors. Risk Factors are characteristics of an individual that increase the likelihood of developing a disease or injury. Risk factors for heart disease and stroke include: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, and smoking. A study by the CDC found that abouthalf of Americans (49%) have at least one of these three risk factors.
Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:
- Overweight and obesity
- Poor diet
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive alcohol use
Heart disease and its effects are devastating, but with these tips for establishing a healthier lifestyle, it can be prevented. Continuwell is always here for members to ask medical questions about their heart health and to call if they feel something may be wrong. Have a medical question or symptom? Don’t hesitate to call our nurses!