It’s February once again and that means it’s American Heart Month! It’s a time when we stop to consider what our hearts do for us and how we can love them and keep them as healthy as possible. The human heart and the maze of vessels that connect to it are nothing short of amazing. The heart pumps blood through our arteries to our body’s cells and then through our veins back to the heart again. The heart then pumps blood into the tissues surrounding the lung sacs and then back to the heart again. This process is repeated over and over through the quiet rhythm of each heartbeat.
There are several processes which support the circulation of blood through our heart and body. The three most notable are: Our blood pressure; our heart’s electrical conduction system; and the condition of the arteries that feed our heart. Chances are you already know someone with one of the following common heart conditions: hypertension (high blood pressure) , atrial fibrillation (a common arrhythmia), and coronary artery disease (clogged artery in the heart).
If left untreated, these conditions can lead to chest pain, trouble breathing, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, and stroke. Unfortunately, sometimes these conditions can also lead to death. So, how can you show your heart some love? Well, you’ve probably heard it before, but it’s still true! Get regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, don’t smoke, and get regular check-ups to screen for diseases of the heart. While eating right, physical activity, and not smoking are things you have control over, you should also consider other factors that put you at high risk: a family history of heart problems, your cholesterol levels, and even certain diseases that can affect your heart such as diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease. If you have any concerning symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or if your heart is beating hard and fast,
seek emergency care by calling 911.
Keeping up with a chronic heart condition can be difficult, especially if you have a complex regimen of medications. If you are on medication for your heart, try to learn what the medication is doing for your heart. Is it lowering your blood pressure or controlling your heart’s rhythm and rate? Is it keeping your cholesterol in check or keeping you from getting a blood clot in your heart, lungs, or legs? It is also very important to know how and when to take your heart medications. Always follow your prescriber’s instructions. Utilizing a pill reminder box, setting alarms, and keeping an accurate list of all your medications are all great habits that can help keep you on track with and be knowledgeable about your heart medications. If you have questions or need further help understanding your heart condition or medications, ask your doctor or a trusted healthcare provider.
Have a happy and safe American Heart Month!
Written from the heart by Kim Rockwell, a Registered Nurse for 15 years but has worked in healthcare for 40 years. She loves to read, write, and help others learn about their health conditions and find pathways to wellness. She has concentrated experience in cardiovascular and gastrointestinal nursing with special interests in mental health, sleep disorders, and fitness.
Various members of the