February is American Heart Month, so show yourself a little love and find out more about how you can prevent heart disease.
Just the Facts
Known as the “silent killer,” heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in America. Approximately 600,000 people per year die of heart disease which is about 25% of all deaths. Over 700,000 American have heart attacks per year (about one every 34 seconds), for about 500,000 of those, it’s their first one and the remaining 200,000 have already had at least one! Heart attacks frequently have lasting effects on people’s health, even for those who don’t have bad side effects, there is a lot of pain, suffering and expense (heart disease costs Americans over $100 billion annually).
Know how to Read the Signs
It’s important to understand the signs of a heart attack. Most people are aware that chest pain is a typical sign, but there are other things that can point to a heart attack that many people are not aware of. In fact, nearly half of all sudden cardiac deaths occur outside of a hospital, which implies that people often don’t understand what’s happening to them until it’s too late.
Some of the other common signs associated with a heart attack are:
• Chest pain or discomfort.
• Pain or discomfort in other parts of the upper body such as the arms, back, or neck; the pain can even sometimes be felt as far away as in the jaw, or upper stomach.
• Shortness of breath, or difficulty catching a breath.
• Other miscellaneous signs such as nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats.
The Power of Prevention
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), prevention is considered to be one of the highest classes of medicine. TCM values health and longevity very highly and the physicians who’ve passed their knowledge down through the millennia tell us that we should care for our health, as once it’s gone, it’s not always easy to get it back.
Many of the risk factors for heart disease have to do with lifestyle and can easily be changed. Despite this, these risk factors are rampant in our country, with half of all Americans exhibiting at least one of the following risk factors:
• High Blood Pressure
• High LDL cholesterol
• Overweight and obesity
• Poor diet
• Physical inactivity
• Excessive alcohol use
Make Health Your Priority
If you’ve got one or more of these problems, NOW is the time to make a change. Eat a balanced and healthy diet, get enough exercise and enough rest, relax and find healthy ways to deal with stress. Treat your health like the precious treasure that it is. Nurture your health, value it, and treat it with care and respect. Talk to your doctor and talk to your acupuncturist about how you can care for your health. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.
Jorga Houy, L.Ac.