We’re right in the middle of Heart Month 2018 at ExercisAbilities and still striving to raise awareness on all things heart health related. Earlier this month, I wrote about the signs of a heart attack. Heart attack and heart failure are both heart related but two different things. Today, I want to talk to you about heart failure and the signs you may see as the heart muscle weakens.
Heart Failure is the term used to describe a heart that can no longer keep up with the needs of the body. The heart muscle is weakened and is not pumping out as much blood (or oxygen) as the rest of the body needs to function.
Symptoms of heart failure include:
Shortness of breath (even at rest)
nausea or loss of appetite
high heart rate
build-up of fluid in body tissues (edema)
If you are noticing any particular symptoms of heart failure, take action and contact a healthcare professional. Certain tests and scans can be used to determine if you have heart failure and what stage it might be in.
Though heart failure is a chronic condition, the symptoms can be managed and you can live a full and enjoyable life with it. Along with medications, lifestyle changes such as eating a heart-healthy/low-sodium diet and getting regular exercise, can help to control symptoms and progression of heart failure.
It’s Heart Health Month at ExercisAbilities and all across the United States. The first American Heart Month was proclaimed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in February 1964. At that time more than half of the deaths in the US were caused by cardiovascular disease. From then on, February has been annually designated as American Heart Month.
This month we will focus on all things heart healthy and that is an amazingly complex topic. Heart health can be as simple as exercise for some and as complex as heart surgery for others. At ExercisAbilities we will work with you as you strive to make healthy choices for your heart health.
Heart Healthy Eating
Eating right is the foundation to a lot of your health including your heart health. Heart-healthy eating includes eating vegetables, fruits, whole-grains, lean meats, fish, nuts and more. But it’s not really that simple because even the smartest of us can take a healthy apple and turn it in to a sugar-loaded piece of apple-pie with whipped cream AND ice cream on top.
Perhaps the best thing to get you started on your heart-healthy eating habits is a visit with our dietician, Laurie Brengman. Laurie is a licensed dietician and can provide a one-on-one consultation. We also have a great group class, Learn To Be Fit, which teaches you both how to eat right and get started on an exercise program.
Heart Healthy Weight Management
The more body fat you have the more likely you are to develop coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. A healthy weight for adults is usually when your body mass index (BMI) is between 18.5 and 24.9. But how the heck do you compute your BMI? Here is a BMI calculator to help you get an estimate. If you are overweight or obese, try to lose weight. Losing just 5% of your current weight can improve your blood pressure and losing a bit more can help you prevent pre-diabetes from becoming Type 2 Diabetes. Losing 5-10% of your current weight also helps lower triglycerides and glucose levels, lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol! Health professionals recommend losing 5 to 10 percent of your initial weight over the course of about 6 months.
Join our Learn to Be Fit class in April to get started with both a diet and exercise program or use our open gym hours to exercise on your own.
Heart Healthy Exercise
Eating right and losing weight are important factors to heart health. But what if you already eat right and are at a healthy weight? Are you set for life? Well, you’re doing great, but health professionals agree that routine exercise is key to your continued heart health.
Everyone should try to participate in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for 30 minutes a day for most days. If you can’t do 30 minutes of exercise at once, try at least 10 minutes at time, several times in the day. Any exercise in which your heart beats fasters and you use more oxygen than usual is good aerobic exercise. The more active you are, the more you will benefit.
Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise plan. Ask your doctor how much and what kinds of physical activity are safe for you.
It stresses me out thinking about how many things can stress us out. With a little training we can learn how to recognize our stressors and how to cope with them in a healthy way. Otherwise, we may cope with our stress in a way that causes more stress: drinking alcohol, drug abuse, smoking, overeating, avoidance.
At ExercisAbilities, the Learn To Be Fit Program teaches us how to recognize the stress factors in our lives that may cause some of us to over-eat. Our program also helps get you started on an exercise plan and gives you access to our open gym hours to exercise on your own.
If you smoke, quit. Smoking can raise your risk for coronary heart disease and heart attack and worsen other coronary heart disease risk factors.
A normal habit is hard to break. Breaking an addictive habit is tough, tough, tough. For those of you that have done it, “Well done! Good Job! You’re amazing!”. For those of you in the midst of your efforts, “You can do it! Keep going! Don’t give up!”.
For anyone trying to break a bad habit, you’re not alone. There are many people on the same road and many programs to help you with your goals.