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February not only kicks off heart health month, but it is also my birthday month, my anniversary month, and of course It has Valentine’s day-the day of amour.

The idea for this heart series was born when I polled my (4)28-year-old daughters’ friends at a recent girl’s night in “- not to worry all the girls at the small gather already have had COVID- so the question I asked them was “at what age did they think heart disease started?” most of them said it starts in women over 50 years and older. Then I asked them if they thought they needed to worry about their heart health and most of them said heart health is not something that they feel they have to be concerned with at this age.

Well, my young at heart women, I’m going to tell you just like I told them, that is just not the case. I went on to explain to them that changes in your blood vessels just don’t happen overnight. Just like with type 2 diabetes or other illnesses, the changes start gradually without warning and research is now showing us that heart health changes can start in your early 30’s.

Now let’s explore What Does having a Healthy Heart Mean?

If you look up the definition heart-healthy, it tells us it is “foods which are low in sodium, fats and other ingredients which may foster heart disease”. But my question to y’all is this; is the key to a healthy heart purely down to the foods you eat?

Well, in part 1 of this 3-part series we’ll explore the meaning behind a healthy heart and the benefits of keeping it in great shape. So, if you’re ready to show your heart some love, keep reading or if you prefer to listen click PODCAST.

First let’s talk mechanics and see How a healthy heart works.

You see ladies your heart is a powerful muscle, continuously pumping blood throughout the body. It consists of four chambers, a wall of tissue known as the septum, and four valves. When working properly, blood flows from the body to the heart, then to the lungs and back to the body in a long continuous cycle. Your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood every day and it will beat about 115,000 times each day.

Problems occur when any of the heart’s structure becomes damaged or fails in any way. A healthy resting heartbeat in an average adult, ranges from 60-100 beats per minute. If you have a lower heart rate, that’s considered a sign of a more efficient and healthier cardiovascular system. Athlete’s for example have lower overall resting heart rates

A healthy heart is better able to cope with the stresses and strains of daily life and can literally help to ensure you live longer.

The benefits of a healthy heart

So, now that you know how a healthy heart works, let’s take a look at what having a healthy heart truly means. The benefits you can expect if you take care of your heart include:

  1. More effective bodily function – When the heart is healthy, it ensures the body functions effectively. This means you’ll be able to carry out even strenuous daily tasks with ease. If the heart isn’t healthy, you’ll find even simple activities much more difficult to do.
  2. It can repair itself – Perhaps the most fascinating thing about a healthy heart is the fact it has the ability to heal itself. So, if it does become damaged due to heart disease or other illnesses, provided it’s been well taken care of, it will be able to repair the damage naturally.
  3. You’ll feel healthier – Of course, one of the main benefits is the fact you’ll feel healthier. As a healthy heart doesn’t need to beat as often or as strenuously as an unhealthy heart, you’ll feel much better generally and also feel much more relaxed.

These are just a small selection of the benefits. The main one, as mentioned earlier, is the fact you’ll live a longer, healthier life. That in itself is enough of a reason to start taking better care of your heart.

Now that we’ve established how a healthy heart works and the benefits it delivers, let’s get into a few things that you need to do to boost your overall heart health.

One of the first things you need to focus on is getting plenty of exercise and making sure you’re eating properly. When exercising, it’s best to do an activity which leaves you breathless. This helps to strengthen the heart, as well as the lungs, and boost blood flow. Eating a diet that’s low in trans-fat and high in fiber and loaded with plenty of fruit and veggies is also recommended.

Next, it’s also important to manage your blood pressure and know your numbers. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of heart disease. The trouble is, you can’t feel it if you do have it. Therefore, you’ll need to get measure it regularly either by or by your medical provider to ensure its low enough and seek treatment if it’s too high. Go to Walmart and by yourself a blood pressure cuff- either a wrist one or an automated wrap around your arm type.

Interestingly, heart disease is also linked to depression and social isolation. Therefore, it’s really important to spend ample time with friends and family in any capacity that you can. If you think you are suffering from depression, it’s important to seek treatment from a doctor as soon as you can.

A healthy heart really is essential if you want to live a long and happy life. While heart disease cannot always be prevented, making sure you take good care of your heart can lower your chances of developing it significantly. The younger you start the better off you will be.

Some facts that you may not have known.

Did you know:

That heart disease kills more women than men

That an increase in your insulin hormone greatly impacts your heart health

Less than 6 hours of sleep is associated with an increased risk of heart disease

Heart issues during pregnancy such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or gestational hypertension put you at an increased risk for heart disease in the future

If you drink more than one drink per day you are at an increased risk for high blood pressure

Sitting at a desk for more than 6 hours a day increases your overall health and heart health

Be sure to check out part 2 of the heart health series here us as we continue this discussion and talk about 5 ways to keep your heart healthy.

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