Love Your Heart-February is Heart Month! By: Gina Ryals

Love Your Heart-February is Heart Month!  By: Gina Ryals

Love Your Heart month February:  Join the Chat with Exercise Guru Gina Ryals and Co-Host of the hit online show “In the Burbs”

   It”s February which means it’s American Heart Month! Why do we celebrate American heart month every February? Well, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women (women are equally affected). Over 600,000 people die every year of heart disease, which is 1 in every 4 people. It affects all ages, genders and ethnicities. Let’s face it, heart disease does not discriminate. Heart disease and heart failure claim more lives in the U.S. than any other illness, including cancer.

   The human heart is a finely tuned instrument that serves the whole body. Your heart is a muscular organ about the size of your fist, and it sits in your chest slightly to the left of center. Without getting too technical, the heart is responsible for pumping blood throughout our body supplying oxygen and nutrients and removing toxins and waste. Heart disease occurs when arteries leading to the heart become clogged. Now that we have the facts, what can we do to reduce our chance of having a heart attack.


Some Interesting Facts about Heart Health:


1.Heart Attacks Can Be Silent– One in five heart attacks occur without the person even knowing they had one. Also, most heart attacks occur between 8-9 a.m.


2.Heart Attacks Affect Men Differently than Women– Women may experience different symptoms than men. They include pain in the back, arm, neck or shoulder; nausea, fatigue, shortness of breath and vomiting.

3.Young Women are at Higher risk than Men – Women under 50 are twice as likely to die of a heart attack as men in the same age group


4.Another Reason to Hate Mondays – Heart attacks are more likely to occur on Monday mornings than other days of the week. Seems logical, we are usually more stressed and worried about our week, right? Actually, scientists attribute this to the disruption in our “circadian rhythm” over the weekend which leads to increased blood pressure and other changes in the nervous system. Hmm…maybe, a good idea to try and stick to a similar sleep schedule over the weekend! 


  Although heart disease has been around for many years, we know that many aspects of modern life exacerbate risk factors and make us more prone to heart failure. So, let’s talk about some of those risk factors! 


Avoid Unhealthy Risks:

  1. Being Sedentary increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. Get the body moving.
  2. Watch your weight! More than ⅓ of Americans are obese and being overweight is a major risk factor for heart disease.
  3. Count on getting the right amount of sleep! 7-8 hours is a good number to strive for!
  4. DON’T SMOKE! People who do are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.
  5. Reduce Sugar- Diabetes is a huge risk factor
  6. Control Cholesterol


   We do know that many things we do in our everyday lives can increase our risk factors for heart disease. Taking time to care for your heart can be challenging as you go about daily life, but it’s easier than you think to show your heart the love it deserves each day. Small acts of self care, like taking walks, getting quality sleep and cooking healthy meals are a great way to start, but before you can move forward with self care, it’s important to know the “health status’’ of your heart.


A Few Tips to Keep You On Track: 


  1. Set Reminders. Schedule a yearly physical and get all the screenings your Physician recommends!.
  2. Listen to your body. Know the symptoms of a heart attack such as pain in your neck, chest, shoulder or torso. Many people have said that they thought they were having heartburn and it turned out to be a heart attack! Lightheadedness and shortness of breath are both symptoms you should be aware of,too.
  3. Stay active…can’t say this enough! Do something physical for at least 20 minutes a day. Doctors repeatedly tell us that exercise has been proven to have a positive effect on our health! Just MOVE!
  4. Eat Healthy! Keep it simple and add more color to your plate!
  5. Most importantly! Be your own health advocate! Take responsibility for your own health and never assume someone else will do it for you!  


  Although we’ve  come a long way in learning about how the heart works, there are still many unanswered questions. One thing doctors around the world can agree on is the best way to protect your heart is to stay active, eat a healthy, balanced diet, reduce your stress and get plenty of rest! Celebrate American Heart Month with your family by discussing the ways to keep your heart healthy, cook some healthy meals together, plan an outdoor activity everyone can participate in and celebrate life!


Gina Ryals

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