The Heart of the Matter: Best Practices To Avoid A Cardiovascular Event
Heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men in the United States, so it’s important to know how to fight it.
The cardiovascular system consists of your heart and all the blood vessels in your body. The heart pumps blood through arteries to deliver oxygen. The veins carry blood back to the heart to deliver waste products (e.g. carbon dioxide). Arteries can be damaged by smoking, high blood pressure and diabetes. Fatty materials and other substances are sent to the damaged area (response to healing). When left unchecked, damage continues to occur, causing the arteries to narrow and leading to a heart attack or stroke.
Everyone has seen dramatizations of a heart attack. Someone dramatically clutches their chest and has pain going down their left arm. However, there are other symptoms to be aware of that aren’t typically represented:
- Shortness of breath
- Pain radiating to one or both arms, upper back, or jaw
- Light headedness
Women may have the same experience as men, but could have the following symptoms instead:
- Neck, shoulder, upper back, or stomach pain
- Cold sweat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Unusual or unexplained fatigue
Best Practices to Avoid a Cardiovascular Event
Know your Numbers:
Make sure you know what your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol numbers are, and your correlating level of risk.
Don’t smoke or use tobacco products:
If you only do one thing - stop smoking. If you don’t smoke, don’t start, but do start moving.
Be Active: How much activity do you get each week? Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week. It will help manage your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.
Know your Family History:
Research your family history to determine your genetic risks. Knowing your inherited risk could save your life.
Get checked regularly: Get an annual checkup that consists of measuring at least your weight and waist circumference, blood pressure, cholesterol, and fasting glucose. Discuss your results and, if necessary, a plan of action with your doctor.
Sources: American Heart Association Go Red for Women
Eat Well While On the Go!
TRAVELING AND CHOICES
Airport travel can be frustrating, and those stresses don’t even include the obstacle of trying to eat healthily while on the go. The abundance of unhealthy food choices, frequent restaurant meals and lack of control that sometimes accompanies visits with friends/family can send your best intentions into a downward spiral. Try using these five tips to keep yourself healthy while traveling this summer.
1. HYDRATE The dry air onboard airplanes can cause gradual fluid loss. Make sure to hydrate before you board the plane. To get around the liquid restrictions at security, pack an empty water bottle in your carry-on and fill it after passing through security. For further hydration, bring a single-serve packet of an electrolyte sports drink powder or tablet.
2. BRING HEALTHY SNACKS The old standard airline snack – pretzels – are fillers that don’t satisfy hunger. With a little planning, you can eat much better on the flight. Snacks like a packet of oatmeal, nuts, raisins, even a small packet of veggie or protein powder (whey mixes easily with water) transport great and provide more nutrients and fiber to keep your body satisfied.
3. THE HOTEL ROOM If possible, get a room with a kitchenette or refrigerator and stock it with some key items from a local grocery store to save money and boost your nutrition while traveling. You’ll save money on food or room service, and have more control over making healthy choices.
4. THE CAR TRIP Traveling on a long road trip? Pack the cooler with snacks instead of frequenting fast food restaurants. You won’t be tempted by gas station junk food. Stop at a pretty roadside spot for a picnic and to stretch your legs – it beats fast food options any day of the week!
5. KNOW THY RESTAURAUNT If you’re going to eat in a restaurant, check their website beforehand and carefully select your order. That way, you don’t have to look at the menu inside the restaurant so you won’t be tempted to order something unhealthy when you sit down.
Man Up for Men’s Health!
June is Men’s Health Month, a time to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and to encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. In 1920, the average life expectancy of a woman was just one year longer than a man. Over the past century, that discrepancy has jumped to an average of six years.
Congressman Bill Richardson said, “Recognizing and preventing men’s health problems is not just a man’s issue. Because of its impact on wives, mothers, daughters and sisters, men’s health is truly a family issue.”1 Here are some statistics that reinforce those thoughts:
- 80% of the elderly who live alone are widows
- Half of the widows who live in poverty were not poor before their husbands’ deaths2
- Early death in males leaves children without fathers and removes a pillar of support from women and children
What causes such high male mortality rates? The largest and most important factor is that men are much less likely to seek routine and preventive medical care, a simple step that would help decrease deaths related to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and depression, and increase the chances of early detection of cancers.
More frequent doctor visits can also increase awareness of the dangers of smoking or excessive drinking, which include heart attack and heart disease – two leading causes of death which occur more often with men than women. Many of these health problems don’t produce symptoms in early stages and can do significant damage before any signs are seen. Remember that preventive medicine can often be the best medicine!
Regular health screenings, exercise and healthier eating are things we should all be doing to improve our wellness, but let Men’s Health Month remind you to give extra encouragement to the men and boys in your life…it may help them make up that six-year discrepancy!
1. Congressional Record, H3905-H3906, May 24, 1994
History suggests that our ancestors ran safely and comfortably before the development of the modern running shoe in the 1970s. Before then, runners often wore moccasins or very thin running shoes that encouraged mid- or forefoot strike form, where the impact force falls on the ball of the foot (the widest part). Bulkier modern sneakers, however, induce heel strike form, where runners land on the heel of the foot. This change in foot strike completely changes impact force to the body and how the body moves, sometimes leading to injury.
Research theorizes that at least 30% of runners sustain injuries every year, many of which can be attributed to the common heel strike form. A heel strike causes severe impact directly to the heel, which transfers up through the ankle, leg, knee, hip and torso. In a mid-foot or forefoot strike, the impact is absorbed by the fat pads of the foot and spread across, diffusing the force of impact and limiting the amount of force sent up the body.
The right minimal footwear makes running with a mid-foot or forefoot strike drastically easier. A typical modern running shoe has a raised heel, little flex in the sole and is heavier than your foot. Minimalist footwear, on the other hand, allows the sole to flex and the foot to roll slightly, adding little weight and leaving the foot in a natural, level position. Lightweight or barefoot-style shoes are becoming more common – but, regardless of your sneakers, remember these tips when transitioning your running form:
• Shift to barefoot running gradually
• Choose minimal shoes with a level, flexible sole
• Land gently on your mid-foot or ball of the foot
• Don’t run on the tips of your toes
• Be aware of ground objects when running barefoot
• Stretch your calves and Achilles tendon well
• Don’t continue with anything that causes pain
Exercises of the month:
CIRCUIT TRAINING WITH THE STABILITY BALL