The American Heart Association has designated the month of February as Heart Month. This is certainly fitting, as Valentine's Day falls in February. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women, causing 1 out of every 4 deaths in the United States alone. The most alarming fact though is that this number one killer is both preventible and controllable. Heart diseae was once thought of as a problem for men. But the truth is that more women than men actually die of heart disease each year. This is thought to be because the symptoms are often different in women, can be vague, suble and often ignored until significant heart damage has already occurred.
As wound experts, we see patient's daily with leg wounds secondary to the lower extermity edema associated with chronic congetsive heart failure. And since nursing is largely a female profession, our radar should be tuned to this malady.
I have long believed that we need to serve as role models for our patients and our families. So I challenge all of us to use this month to get started on a heart-health game plan. February may be the shorest month of the year, but it is enough time to make some big improvements in our health and accept the Center for Disease Control plan of 28 Days to a Healthier Heart. Think about making one small change each week.
Week #1: Halt the Salt by reducing the amounts of processed foods in your diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Cook at home and eat out less.
Week #2: Get Moving by aiming for 30 minutes of exrecise a day. If necessary, break up the time into 10 minute intervals. Start slowly and gradually increase the resistance, the repetitions and intensity. Add a variety of activities that you enjoy.
Week #3: Kick Butt. More deaths are caused each year by tobacco use than by all other causes combined. Now is the time to quit for good.
Week #4: Know Your Blood Pressure: Check you blood pressure and track it regularly. Take any and all prescribed medications. Limit alcohol intake. Take time to relax, meditate and reduce stress.