February is American Heart Month: Is your heart older than you?

  • February 14, 2020
  • |Quartz
|
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Yes, it’s the month for Cupid’s red arrow. Heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates. Red roses. It’s also the month you’ll see people wearing red. These people are sharing and wearing a message about heart health. And it’s a message people of all ages need to hear.

American Heart Month is dedicated to spreading awareness about heart health as our nation’s number one killer. That’s why people across the country helped kick off American Heart Month on National Wear Red Day, February 7.

Nearly one in three people in America die from heart disease. Today, it’s not only your grandparents or parents you need to worry about. The conditions that lead to heart disease are being seen with new frequency in adults ages 35 to 64.

Half of all Americans have one or more of the risk factors for developing heart disease. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, on average, adults have hearts that are seven years older than they should be.

How can you become more heart healthy at any age?

Live without cigarettes. Are you dying for a smoke? If you smoke, you are putting yourself at risk. Among other things, smoking damages blood vessels and can lead to heart disease.

Strive to eat healthily. Replace foods high in sodium with fresh fruits and vegetables. Enjoy more foods that are low in trans-fat and saturated fat, aiming for low sodium options.

Get up and go. Step out and get physically active for at least 150 minutes each week — that’s about 20 minutes a day. Only one in five Americans currently meets the guidelines for moderate-intensity activity.

Recognize the signs

Adopting healthy habits is the best thing you can do to keep your heart well. It’s also important to know the signs of a heart attack. Chest pain or discomfort is a common symptom for men and women. According to the American Heart Association, women are more likely to experience other symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Other signs. Shortness of breath that can occur with or without chest discomfort, breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.

Manage existing health conditions

Along with focusing on a healthier lifestyle, it’s important to reduce your risk factors when you have certain health conditions. Work with your health care team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. As a health plan, Quartz supports members when they’re sick while aspiring to keep them healthy. Quartz members can count on support and resources such as tobacco cessation programs and health coaching.

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