A Journey For Heart Health

Every journey begins with one step, whether it’s climbing a mountain or preventing heart disease. NY Connects can help you along the way and connects you with local resources to help you achieve your goals. February is American Heart month. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering tips for better heart health. Take your first step on the road to a healthy heart.

Heart disease is a major problem. Every year, about 715,000 Americans have a heart attack. About 600,000 people die from heart disease in the United States each year-that’s one out of every four deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the United States is coronary heart disease (also called coronary artery disease), which occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Coronary heart disease can cause heart attack, angina, heart failure and arrhythmias. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, costs the United States $312.6 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care services, medications and lost productivity. These conditions also are leading causes of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities.

The situation is alarming, but there is good news-heart disease is preventable and controllable. We can start by taking small steps every day to bring our loved ones and ourselves closer to heart health. NY Connects can help you all through the month of February, and you can take these small steps all year long.

One Step at a Time: As you begin your journey to better heart health, keep these things in mind:

Don’t become overwhelmed. Every step brings you closer to a healthier heart.

Don’t go it alone. The journey is more fun when you have company. Ask friends and family to join you.

Don’t get discouraged. You may not be able to take all of the steps at one time. Get a good night’s sleep and do what you can tomorrow.

Reward yourself. Find fun things to do to decrease your stress. Round up some colleagues for a lunchtime walk, join a singing group, or have a healthy dinner with your family or friends.

PLAN FOR PREVENTION

Some health conditions and lifestyle factors can put people at a higher risk for developing heart disease. You can help prevent heart disease by making healthy choices and managing any medical conditions you may have.

Eat a healthy diet. Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables-adults should have at least five servings each day. Eating foods low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol and high in fiber can help prevent high cholesterol. Limiting salt or sodium in your diet also can lower your blood pressure. For more information on healthy diet and nutrition, talk to your doctor. Remember Meals on Wheels can provide meals to you.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease. To determine whether your weight is in a healthy range, doctors often calculate a number called the body mass index (BMI).

Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower cholesterol and blood pressure. NY Connects has several local exercise classes offered with the Office for the Aging. Call today to see what may be available to you.

Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. You can check your blood pressure at home, at a pharmacy, or at a doctor’s office.

Don’t smoke. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit as soon as possible. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit. For more information about tobacco use and quitting, see CDC’s Smoking & Tobacco Use website and Smokefree.gov. NY Connects has a listing of resources available to you to kick the smoking habit! Every hospital has a resource available to the public for this big challenge.

Limit alcohol use. Avoid drinking too much alcohol, which can increase your blood pressure.

Have your cholesterol checked. Talk with your doctor about this simple blood test.

Manage your diabetes. If you have diabetes, monitor your blood sugar levels closely, and talk with your doctor about treatment options. Chautauqua County hosts several chronic disease self-management classes to help you live with diabetes and other conditions.

Take your medicine. If you’re taking medication to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Always ask questions if you don’t understand something. The Chautauqua Office for the Aging can assist seniors with health insurance counseling. This helps to see if the medications they take could be more cost effective under another providers plan. Call NY Connects to set up an appointment to speak with a counselor. This program is offered for a donation.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable. You can go to www.cdc.gov for more information as well. NY Connects is your one-stop call for information about services available to you in Chautauqua County. Call with your questions and we will provide you with local services and resources in an effort to meet your needs. You can reach NY Connects by phone: Jamestown areas: 661-7582, Dunkirk/Fredonia areas: 363-4582 and Mayville areas/mid county 753-4582, fax 753-4844, emailccnyc@co.chautauqua.ny.us. You can come and see us at 7 N. Erie St., Mayville. NY Connects is brought to you in cooperation from the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging and the Department of Health and Human Services.