MD Now® Urgent Care Gets to the Heart of the Matter
Most people associate February with Valentine’s Day, but there’s an even more important heart that should be in the spotlight—yours. February is American Heart Month, which is the perfect time to focus on all things heart-related.
The heart is one of your most vital organs, pumping about 2,000 gallons of blood every day and delivering blood to nearly every cell in your body. Despite extensive research, heart disease remains the #1 cause of death in the United States. In honor of American Heart Month, MD Now urgent care is sharing heart disease prevention and heart-healthy diet tips that anyone can follow.
Knowing your risk factors is also essential to keeping your heart health in check. MD Now’s licensed healthcare professionals can evaluate many common heart-related conditions and identify if you need a specialist.
What Is Heart Disease?
Before we hone in on heart disease prevention, let’s define what heart disease is.
The term “heart disease” actually refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which affects blood flow to the heart. Others include arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythms), myocardial infarction (heart attack), cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), and congestive heart failure.
Heart disease is often silent, leaving the person unaware they have it until they experience a heart attack, heart failure, or another life-threatening event.
You May Experience
- Arrhythmia – A fluttering feeling in your chest
- Heart attack – Chest pain, upper body discomfort, heartburn, indigestion, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, shortness of breath, or extreme fatigue
- Heart failure – Shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, or abdomen
Of course, the point of heart disease prevention is to help you avoid these symptoms before they happen.
Heart Disease Prevention Tips
While some risk factors for heart disease are out of your control (like age and genetics), many others are controllable—such as obesity, high blood pressure, and tobacco use. MD Now urgent care encourages you to do your part to help your heart.
Eat a Heart-Healthy Diet
The food choices you make have a major impact on your overall health. Eating healthy foods helps protect your heart, improve your blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
A heart-healthy diet centers around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins (such as poultry and fish), and healthy fats (such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts). Limit sodium, sugar, saturated fats, and processed foods. These can all increase your blood pressure and cause build-up of plaque in your blood vessels—a condition called atherosclerosis.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Being overweight or obese can lead to conditions that increase your chances of developing heart disease, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your heart—and yet another benefit of eating a heart-healthy diet.
Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco
People who smoke or use tobacco are several times more likely to have a heart attack than people who don’t. Why? Nicotine narrows blood vessels, limiting the amount of oxygen delivered to the heart. This narrowing can also lead to high blood pressure and increase your risk of kidney failure and stroke.
Thanks to smartphones, televisions, and computers, many of us spend more time sitting than we ever have before. Try to avoid sitting for long periods, as it increases your risk of heart disease. Stand up and stretch every few hours—or even better, take a moment to walk around your home or office, go up and down the stairs, or do household chores.
The American Heart Association also recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise) each week, such as brisk walking, jogging, bike riding, or swimming. Anything that gets and keeps your heart rate up will do.
Get Plenty of Sleep
People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of heart disease. Lack of sleep disturbs the hormonal balance in your body, wreaking havoc on your organs (including your heart). Try to get at least seven hours of sleep each night, and keep distractions like smartphones out of your bedroom.
Many people cope with stress in unhealthy ways, such as overeating, smoking, or drinking alcohol. But healthier alternatives like yoga, meditation, or just a few minutes of deep breathing can work wonders. Listening to calming music can also slow down your heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease anxiety.
Get Regular Health Screenings
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of all Americans have at least one of three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
MD Now wants you to have a full picture of your heart health. Our licensed healthcare professionals can evaluate many common heart-related conditions and identify if you need a specialist.
Protect Your Heart Health at MD Now
One of the best ways to understand where your heart health stands is to talk to your doctor. MD Now urgent care makes it easy to get the answers you need, with more than 75 state-of-the-art clinics across Florida.
Our physician-led team of healthcare professionals is ready to help. Just walk in—no appointment necessary.