September 29 is World Heart Day, focused on inspiring people to take charge of their heart health. For over two decades the World Heart Federation has been leading the World Heart Day movement – educating people around the globe about ways to manage cardiovascular disease (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, the leading cause of death globally. This year’s campaign focus is “We’re all in this together.” You can find out more on the World Heart Day website and get involved in the challenges and activities.
1. Living A Heart-Healthy Lifestyle
A heart-healthy lifestyle includes knowing your body, managing stress, getting more sleep, sunshine and exercise, making good food choices and maintaining good oral health. Here’s how to keep your hearth strong and healthy:
2. Get Smart About Your Heart:
We tend to think that heart attacks are all about a crushing pain in the chest, but that’s not always true. Women may experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. And roughly 1-in-5 incidents are “silent” heart attacks, causing damage to the heart muscle without recognizable symptoms to the person suffering the attack. Knowing the warning signs and best tips for preventing or treating cardiovascular disease can save one's life.
3. Make Sure You’re Getting Enough Sleep
Adults who sleep less than 7 hours each night raise their risk for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Why? In part, because when you are sleeping, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep problems means your blood pressure stays higher for a longer period of time. Find out more about sleep and heart health here.
4. Manage Stress
Yes, we’re all struggling with stress overload these days. And when you’re stressed, your brain prompts your adrenal glands to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that are useful in helping you to fight the threat or run away from it very quickly. But when you are stressed about things that you cannot fight or flee from, that overabundance of adrenaline in your system can cause high blood pressure, along with headaches, upset stomach, heartburn, sore throats and teeth grinding. Try to find ways to manage it, such as therapy, meditation and/or healthy hobbies, rather than turning to harmful coping mechanisms and bad habits to soothe yourself.
5. Move Your Body
Regular exercise burns calories, strengthens your body, and protects your heart. How? Like other muscles, your heart becomes stronger with regular physical activity. As your cardiovascular fitness improves, your heart muscle doesn't have to work as forcefully to pump blood through your body.
Try to make exercise a regular part of your life, and don’t forget to make healthy eating choices! According to the World Heart Federation, “it only takes 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, five days a week, to improve and maintain your health. Adults (aged 18-65) and seniors (65+) should aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or at least 75 minutes of high-intensity physical activity, every week. Children and adolescents should do at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity every day.”
6. See Your Dentist
Research indicates that people with periodontal disease – gum infection and tooth decay – may have a higher risk of having or dying from a heart attack, heart failure or stroke. Medical science has several theories about the association between oral and cardiac disease:
- It may be caused by bacteria from infected gums traveling throughout the body.
- It may be caused by the body’s immune response (inflammation) to chronic gum disease.
- It may be connected to unhealthy habits such as smoking, unhealthy food choices, and skipping preventive care visits that result in widespread damage to the body.
Whatever the correlation is, you can maximize your oral health by making healthy choices and consistently maintaining a good dental hygiene routine (at the most basic, that’s brushing your teeth for three minutes, with a soft brush, twice a day and flossing). Follow your dentist’s guidance on what you should do to take care of your teeth and gums, and get regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months - or more, as needed.
Think you can’t afford regular dental care? You can. Dental savings plans, an alternative to dental insurance, provide discounts of 10-60% on most dental procedures and have a network of more than 140,000 dentists and specialists nationwide. Please reach out to us at 1-833-735-0399 if you have any questions about dental savings plans or how they can help keep your smile – and heart – healthy.