February is American Heart Month. Did you know that heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States? About 90% of middle-aged people and 74% of young adults have one or more risk factors for heart disease. Risk factors for heart disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, cigarette smoking and being overweight. If you have more than one of these risk factors, your risk of heart disease increases.
What is heart disease?
The phrase “heart disease” is used to describe a bundle of conditions that affect heart health. The most common type of heart disease is coronary heart disease. Coronary heart disease occurs when fat, cholesterol, and calcium build up in your arteries, causing clogged arteries. The buildup of fat, cholesterol, and calcium is called plaque. Plaque prevents oxygen in your blood from getting to your heart. This can cause chest pain or lead to blood clots. Blood clots can block the flow of blood to your heart and is a common cause of heart attack.
How can you protect yourself from heart disease?
Take care of your heart by doing these activities:
- Eat healthy foods. Pay attention to your sodium intake by reading nutrition labels. Try to have more veggies, fruits, and whole grains in your diet. Limit foods that are high in saturated fat and sugar.
- Be physically active! Try to get at least 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week. That may sound intimidating but if you break it up, that’s just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. You can reach this goal by going for regular walks, attending exercise programs, or by playing games with children or grandchildren. Invite a friend or family member to join you and help keep you motivated!
- Quit smoking. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can harm your heart and blood vessels. Quitting smoking is hard, but is possible. Set a quit date and ask for support from family and friends.
- Reduce stress. Stress may lead to high blood pressure. Practice meditation or yoga and identify healthy activities that help you relax.
What resources are available?
Keep your heart healthy by participating in these activities and programs.
FCP Tribal Wellvation Program – Open to FCP enrolled tribal members age 18 years and older. This program meets you where you are at and rewards you for making healthy lifestyle changes. FCP Community Health offers this program. Learn more by calling 715-478-4355.
Elders Exercise Program – Open to FCP Tribal Elders. Light workouts lasting 30-60 minutes with a health snack and bucket raffles are provided at each session. Sessions are offered at 1:30 pm every other Wednesday. For more information, call FCP Recreation at 715-478-7420.
Smoking Cessation Incentive Program – Open to FCP tribal members and individuals eligible for the Alternative Care Program. Schedule an appointment with Sara Cleereman, R.N. at 715-478-4889.
Women’s Exercise Program – Open to FCP Women of all fitness levels, classes will be offered twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 pm at the FCP Recreation Building. Please call FCP Community Health at 715-478-4355 for more information.
To learn more about American Heart Month, visit the NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month.