February - the month for Valentines, flowers, chocolates, and all that good stuff. But February has been assigned another theme. The month has been designated American Heart Month - a time to do all those things that keep your heart healthy.
- Eat a healthy diet. Lots of fruit and vegetables. Keep to a minimum those food high in cholesterol as well as salty and sugary treats. Eat light. Eat healthy, and keep your weight at a reasonable level.
- Exercise. It doesn't have to be strenuous. A daily walk can keep your heart pumping and your lungs filled with refreshing air. Swimming is excellent exercise, or if neither of these is possible, anything that gets you moving in some way is good for the heart.
- Stop smoking.
- Cut back on alcohol consumption.
- See your doctor for frequent checkups for high blood pressure, cholesterol levels and diabetes, all dangerous to heart health.
- Get adequate sleep. Sleep deprivation increases blood pressure and heart rate, and can even bring on a heart attack.
Recent studies have found a link between sleep apnea, heart attack and strokes. The numerous lapses in breathing during the night cause sleep deprivation. Add to this a lack of oxygen and an increase of carbon dioxide in the blood and you have a good chance of suffering a heart attack or a stroke.
A recent article published in Chest (the Journal of the American College of Chest Physicians) reveals that a common therapy used to treat obstructive sleep apnea may protect against heart attacks.
"Research has shown that patient with OSA have an increased incidence of death or events related to cardiovascular disease, particularly hypertension," says Dr. Walter McNicholas of St. Vincent's University in Dublin, Ireland. He goes on to state that CPAP not only relieves symptoms of apnea, but may protect them against cardiovascular disease related to the apnea.
Paul A. Kvale, President of the American college of Chest Physicians says, "Although it is important to OSA through treatment such as CPAP, physicians and patients must take steps to identify and modify risk factors that may be contributing to the disorder." These risks are listed at the start of my article.
This is American Heart Month. Do all you can to have a healthy heart, not only this month, but every month.
Published On: February 16, 2010