February is Heart Health Awareness Month!
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease refers to problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries, called
atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it more difficult for blood to flow
and creating a risk for heart attack or stroke.
Other types of heart disease include heart failure, an irregular heartbeat, arrhythmia, and heart valve
problems. To learn if you are at risk for these specific conditions, please visit your primary health
care provider or cardiologist.
The average heart weighs about 7 to 15 ounces (about the weight of an apple) and is a little larger
than the size of your fist.
Your heart is responsible for pumping out approximately 2 ounces of blood at every heartbeat,
adding up to at least 2,500 gallons daily. The heart has the ability to beat over 3 billion times in a
Your heart never rests; it begins beating about 22 days after conception, and doesn’t stop until the
end of life. According to the Texas Heart Institute, by the end of a long life a human heart can beat up
to 3.5 billion times.
Sitting long hours, stress, inadequate sleep, exposure to certain chemicals or pollution, and high
consumption of trans fat and sugar increases your risk of heart disease.
Heart Health Statistics
• Stroke is the leading preventable cause of disability.
• Heart disease accounts for 1 in 7 deaths in the U.S.
• Heart disease is not just a Men’s disease, it is the No. 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all
forms of cancer combined.
• More than half of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths happen to people under age 65.
Top Contributors to Heart Disease
• Tobacco use introduces the body to chemicals and toxins that severely damage the vessels and
arteries causing atherosclerosis and significantly increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke.
• Inactivity compromises your body’s ability to regulate your weight and your body’s use of insulin as
well as you blood pressure, blood lipid levels, blood glucose levels, blood clotting factors, the health
of your blood vessels and inflammation, which is powerful promoter of cardiovascular disease.
• Sugar is glycated, meaning sticky molecules stick to structures such as protein, and reduce their
effectiveness and mobility. High insulin also damages artery walls over time.
• Poor Diet can increase inflammation, oxidation, and plaque which are the physiological
consequences that will increase risk of heart disease.
• Overweight/Obesity increases risk of developing hypertension, diabetes and atherosclerosis. These
conditions will put you at high risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Inadequate sleep: People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk of obesity, high blood
pressure, heart attack, diabetes and depression.
• Stress disrupts our body’s hormone levels, sleep and metabolism. These disruptions can lead to
increasing risks of heart disease.
Prevent Heart Disease
• Quit Tobacco. When you quit smoking, your risk of heart disease drops almost to that of a nonsmoker
in about five years. Regardless of how much you smoked, you’ll start reaping rewards as soon as you
• Be Active Activity. Keep your heart pumping with at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day, even if
it’s broken into 10-minute sessions, physical activity can significantly reduce a person’s risk of
developing heart disease.
• Eat a Heart Healthy Diet. Your diet is crucial in the development and prevention of cardiovascular
disease. Diet is one of the key behaviors you can change that will impact all other cardiovascular risk
factors. A diet containing healthy fats, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, compared to the
typical diet of someone living in the developed world show a drastic reduction in heart disease.
• Lose Weight or Maintain a Healthy Weight. A decrease in just 10% of body weight for someone who
is overweight can be enough to start showing improvements in conditions such as blood sugar and
• Get Adequate Sleep. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Get enough sleep so
you wake up feeling refreshed.
• Get preventive health screenings. Health status should be monitored for all individuals, regardless of
age, on a regular basis.
Regular tests should consist of:
-Cholesterol & Lipid levels
-Lipid particle size
• Practice Stress Management. Find ways to decrease daily stress, and manage your emotional and
physical reaction to stress.
Want to learn how to optimize your nutrition for a healthier lifestyle?
Schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Katie Di Lauro
Katherine.DiLauro@activewellness.com or 760.931.3132