Heart health is among the most important factors that contribute to an individual’s physical well-being. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death among adults in the US, causing one death every 37 seconds, so understanding important facts about heart health is essential.

However, with so much information out there, it may feel impossible to know all you need to know about heart health. In honor of American Heart Month, we’ll explore some heart health facts that you might not know, but can help you in your journey towards heart health. Together we can take charge of our cardiovascular well-being and pave the way for healthier hearts and longer, more vibrant lives.

10 Heart Health Facts:

  1. Heart attack symptoms in men vs women:

    • Men and women can both experience some of the same heart attack symptoms, however, there are a number of unique symptoms that women may experience during the onset of a heart attack. While men are more likely to feel severe pain in their arms or neck, women may feel severe pain in their upper body, often between their shoulder blades. Women are also more likely to break out in a cold sweat and unusual fatigue.
  2. Importance of family history

    • It can be lifesaving to know your family history of cardiovascular disease and other heart-related conditions. A history of heart-related conditions that run in your family will help your doctors to better evaluate your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. This knowledge allows healthcare professionals to tailor preventive measures and early interventions based on your unique risk factors.
  3. Gum disease and heart disease

    • There is a growing association between oral health and cardiovascular disease, so it’s important to see a dentist regularly to prevent gum inflammation and disease or tooth damage. Research has shown that the inflammation related to gum disease could be a risk factor for heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular issues.
  4. B.E.F.A.S.T. to spot a stroke

    • Use the acronym B.E F.A.S.T to help you spot a stoke:

B – Balance – Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?

E – Eyes – Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes without pain?

F – Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

A- Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T – Time to call 911 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately

  1. Heart-healthy diet

    • Your diet has a significant impact on your heart health. Focus on eating less saturated fat, cutting down on sodium, and eating more fiber to start on your nutrition journey.
  2. Diabetes and heart health

    • For people with diabetes, the risk of having heart disease is doubled. Higher levels of blood sugar can be damaging to blood vessels and nerves that control the heart. There are also a number of other conditions that people with diabetes are more likely to have, which also increase the disk of heart disease. These include: high blood pressure, high levels of LDL, and high trigylcerides.
  3. Menopause and cardiovascular disease

    • When comparing women to men, women tend to develop cardiovascular diseases later in life. This is because for women, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease increase after menopause. Research has shown that this is because of the decrease in levels of estrogen.
  4. Sitting and risk for CVD

    • A sedentary lifestyle is a major risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease. A sedentary lifestyle also can contribute to increased risk factors for such diseases, including obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Even 30 minutes of movement per day can help contribute to a healthier heart.
  5. Social isolation and cardiovascular disease

    • Studies have linked social isolation and loneliness with cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that these risk factors increased the risk of hospitalization or death from heart failure by 15% to 20%. One of the hypotheses is that isolation and loneliness create increased stress, which is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  6. Winter warning

    • There is a link between the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, and death from such diseases, and the colder winter months. Several studies have looked at the onset of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, hypertension, heart failure, and other cardiovascular conditions and found that there are higher levels of occurrence during the winter. Take extra care of yourself in the cold weather.

Taking care of our heart health is a personal journey, and every decision and lifestyle choice counts. It’s important to stay educated and aware of all of the different factors that may have an impact on your cardiovascular health. Throughout American Heart Month this February, challenge yourself to learn more about heart health, and examine which lifestyle changes you can make to drive a positive impact on your cardiovascular health.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your Employee Assistance Program or primary care doctor for the guidance and support you need or check out our Member Resource Center for more information.