February; American Heart Month

February has flown by, It’s been a rough month for my family after losing my grandmother. It was unexpected for a few reasons. 1. We didn’t know the condition of her heart and 2. She fell and unfortunately at that age; a fall is life-threatening.

The reason I became a vegetarian is partly due to the extensive heart disease in my family. Just about five years ago my grandmother had a quadruple bypass followed by my uncle a couple of years after. Cardiac Bypass is a surgery where they take a graft from your leg and use that graft to reroute blood flow to the heart. When you need a bypass, it’s usually due to a blocked artery. For my nurses reading this, my grandmothers BNP at the time of her surgery was 15k.

Years passed, she would tell us that everything was ok, she felt good and her doctor said she was healthy. Then she fell and had a heart attack. Upon further assessment, she had another artery completely blocked. This is years after the bypass, the arteries couldn’t withstand the abuse.

I find it appropriate to talk about her health because it’s heart health month! According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 610,000 people die every year from heart disease. I’ve said this before, heart disease is the #1 killer in America. A disease that can be controlled and reversed with lifestyle and nutrition is the leading cause of death. That’s 1 in 4, so if you are in a room right now with 4 people, chances are likely that one person will die due to cardiac issues.

With that being said, women are affected the same, if not more then men. Especially, black women. I work with two beautiful black women and preach to them daily on heart health and the risk associated with smoking. I harass and harass because there is such limited community education. This is not a topic frequently discussed and no one wants to tell you it’s your habits that need to be changed.

If you are experiencing episodes of high blood pressure, head over to this blog for more details. If you are a person that wants to take care of their heart and prevent further complications keep reading for more facts and tips.

-Almost 64% of women who die from heart disease had no previous symptoms.
– About 5.7 MILLION people have heart failure, which contributes to 1 in 9 deaths. The US spends 30.7 BILLION dollars each year in health care services, medications and missed work days.

I know you’re probably already participating in some heart health exercises with valentines an all, but here are some tips to get you on track!

-Limit / Decrease the amount of saturated fats in your diet. Saturated fats increase the production of cholesterol your liver produces.
-Limit animal products as well. There are plenty of studies that show the benefits of a plant-based diet and its correlation with heart disease. Aside from your bodies natural ability to produce cholesterol, your body also retains cholesterol from the food we eat (dietary cholesterol).
-Get a regular physical, get blood work done and know your numbers. It’s that simple, prevention is key.
-Exercise at least 3x a week for 30 minutes. Then increase as tolerated.
-If you are having trouble figuring out what to eat & how much; download the daily dozen app.
Stress is also a risk factor for heart disease, find a hobby that you love that may be helpful with getting your mind off things. I prefer to get a workout in when I’m stressed. Some people like to take a nap, either way, find something helpful haha.

In turn, just be mindful. So many cardiac issues can be prevented! Little steps can go a long way!

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