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American Heart Month

January 16th, 2020 · No Comments · Books, City Library, Main Branch, News, West Branch

I will never forget the voicemail my grandmother left on my parent’s answering machine my senior year of high school informing us that my grandfather had suffered a minor heart attack. She’s a nurse and has always been very straightforward in dealing with family medical issues, and this was no different. “Well,” she started, “your grandfather’s had a heart attack. He’s fine,” she added, in case that wasn’t clear from her blasé tone.  My mom called her right back to get the details and to confirm that he was in fact okay. However, he wasn’t as lucky with the next heart attack the following week.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, causing one in four deaths. But what exactly is heart disease? February is American Heart month, so this is the perfect time to answer that question. Heart disease, often called cardiovascular disease, includes problems with the heart and blood vessels. It can result in heart failure, heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke, or aneurysm, all of which are life threatening and life-altering. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, dizziness and lightheadedness, irregular heartbeat, and fatigue. 

This may sound daunting, but fortunately heart disease is preventable. A healthy diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease. Eating a diet low in saturated fats, salt, and sugar can help lower cholesterol and help with weight loss. Smoking and other nicotine habits constrict blood vessels, and alcohol also increases risk, so cutting back on or eliminating alcohol and nicotine can help lower the chance of heart disease. Maintaining a healthy weight is also an important factor, as is getting enough sleep. When planning a New Year’s resolution, it might be a good idea to keep this information in mind, since it’s never too early to prevent heart disease.

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