Optum Care Utah is a partner with Utah’s American Heart Association and their effort to invite Utahns to Reclaim Your Rhythm.
According to The American Heart Association, the pandemic has significantly impacted our risk for heart disease and stroke.
- 1 in 5 people reported lower physical wellness
- 1 in 3 reported lower emotional wellness2
- Over the past year, many of us have adopted unhealthy behaviors like skipping exercise, eating unhealthy foods, drinking more alcohol and using tobacco, which can all increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Even people who had mild cases of COVID-19 may have changes to their heart and brain health due to their run-in with the virus
What are some of the key risk factors for heart disease?
There are several factors that can increase your risk of developing heart disease or experiencing dangerous heart-related health issues, such as a heart attack or stroke. Some of them include your lifestyle, age, family history or presence of key risk factors, such
- Diabetes or prediabetes
- High blood pressure
- High or unhealthy levels of cholesterol
According to the CDC, about half of all Americans (47 percent) have at least 1 of 3 key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking.
What are some lifestyle changes or healthy behaviors to adopt to prevent heart issues?
Developing a healthy lifestyle by taking care of your mental health and wellbeing, ensuring you are getting enough sleep, managing stress, not smoking, staying active and eating healthy are all behaviors that can decrease your risk of a serious heart condition.
This year, the American Heart Association is inviting people to Reclaim Your Rhythm and take back control of your physical health and mental well-being. The American Heart Association is helping people create healthy habits that work best for their life, to give them the best chance at life. Four Ideas they recommend to Reclaim Your Rhythm:
1. Mellow Out and Reduce Stress
- A positive mindset can improve your overall health.
- Stress leads to unhealthy habits like overeating, physical inactivity, smoking and risk factors for heart disease and stroke like high blood pressure, and depression or anxiety.
- Managing stress means managing your health, so reclaim control of your schedule and build in time to invest in a healthier “you.”
- A recent study shows people with higher levels of optimism had a 35% decreased risk of CVD and a 14% decreased risk of all-cause mortality.
- Some studies show a more positive mindset can help you live longer.
- Happy individuals tend to sleep better, exercise more, eat better and not smoke.
2. Move More
- Physical activity is linked to lower risk of diseases, stronger bones and muscles, improved mental health and cognitive function and lower risk of depression.
- Staying active is one of the best ways to keep your body and mind healthy. Not only can it help you feel, think, sleep and live better, it also improves overall quality of life.
- Step away from distractions and to-do lists to go for a walk or meditate, – do what you need to re-charge. If you don’t take back your time, something else will.
*Optum Disclaimer: Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level. Ask about the amounts and types of activities that may be best for you. Remember, moderation is best when starting an exercise regimen. Start slowly and gradually increase how often, how vigorous and how long you exercise. Moving even a little improves your health.
3. Feed Your Soul, Rock Your Recipes
- As school and in-person work returns make time to eat meals together as a family for a chance to connect and decompress.
- Regular meals at home with family reduce stress, boost self-esteem and make the whole family feel connected.
- Family meals make it more likely that kids and adults will eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Mealtime conversations are a great way to connect, unplug and reduce stress. Some studies show mealtime conversation improved vocabulary more than being read aloud to.
4. Stay on Beat with Blood Pressure
- Close to half of American adults have high blood pressure. Of those, about 75% don’t have it controlled and many don’t even know they have it.
- High blood pressure is a leading cause and controllable risk factor for heart disease and stroke and can contribute to worse outcomes for people who contract COVID-19.
- Now, more than ever, it is important for you to pay attention to their blood pressure, know your numbers and work with a healthcare professional to control the levels and manage risks.
- The best way to know your blood pressure numbers is to have it measured at least once per year by a healthcare professional, regularly monitor it at home with a validated monitor and discuss the numbers with a doctor. For most people, a normal blood pressure should be 120/80 or less. Knowing how to get the most accurate blood pressure reading helps ensure the most appropriate treatment.
- It is important to stay adherent to your prescribed medication regimen and to talk to your doctor if you are having problems/side effects so you can work together to formulate a better treatment plan.
- In addition to properly monitoring blood pressure, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, eating healthfully, and reducing or eliminating alcohol and tobacco will help with blood pressure control. However, if you do develop high blood pressure, working with a health care professional on a plan to manage it, can help you to be healthy.
What are some warning signs of serious heart conditions?
Two of the most common serious cardiovascular issues are heart attack and stroke. It’s important to understand the warning signs of both, as well as understand the differences in warning signs depending on your gender.
- Some of the warning signs of a heart attack include:
- Chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like squeezing or pressure.
- Uncomfortable feelings in the upper area of the body, such as the arms, stomach, neck, back or jaw.
- Shortness of breath that can occur with or without chest discomfort
- Other signs include nausea, cold sweats or lightheadedness.
- Some warning signs of a stroke include:
- Speech difficulty
- Weakness on one side of the body or arm
- Drooping or numbness in the face
- If any of these symptoms are occurring, it’s critical to call 911 as this can be a serious medical emergency.