GEA - 6 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health
GEA - 6 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health
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GEA - 6 Ways to Improve Your Heart Health

February 16, 2024

With February being American Heart Month, we wanted to highlight ways that help improve heart health. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. Understanding the contributing factors and ways to lower your risk can significantly impact your overall health. This blog will cover what heart disease is, what the causes are, and simple ways to improve your heart health.

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease is a term that describes a variety of different conditions, all affecting the heart’s structure and function. The most common heart disease is coronary artery disease, which affects blood vessels. There are also irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), congenital heart defects, disease of the heart muscle, and heart valve disease.  

Heart Disease vs. Cardiovascular Disease

All heart diseases are considered cardiovascular diseases, but not all cardiovascular diseases are heart diseases. Examples of cardiovascular diseases include strokes and peripheral arterial disease. 

What Causes Heart Disease?

Heart disease can affect anyone, but there are certain lifestyle choices and other factors that can increase risk. Those with high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, diabetes, tobacco use, drinking too much alcohol, obesity, unhealthy diet, and not getting enough physical activity are all at a higher risk for heart disease.

Other Factors

Genetics likely play some role in heart disease and high blood pressure, but the risk for heart disease can increase even more when genetics combine with unhealthy lifestyle choices (i.e. tobacco use). Gender does not play a role in heart disease, as it is the number one cause of death for both men and women. It can also affect you at any age, but the risk increases as you age.

The biggest takeaway is that lifestyle choices make all the difference. Let’s look into ways that can lead to living a longer, healthier life. 

How to Improve Your Heart Health

Small changes in our diet and lifestyle can make all the difference in living healthier lives and preventing heart disease. Here are six simple daily changes you can incorporate: 

  • Eat Healthy
    • Include a variety of fruits and vegetables with each meal
    • Opt for whole grains
    • Include healthy protein sources (mainly plants or seafood)
    • Choose minimally processed foods
    • Try to lower sodium intake 
    • Drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Get Active
    • Strive for daily movement (even just a short, brisk walk)
    • Aim to increase your steps each day (even if it’s just 1k more)
    • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Quit Smoking
    • This includes vaping
    • Avoid secondhand smoke
  • Manage Stress 
    • Find activities that help you decrease stress
    • Maybe it’s meditation, reading, or yoga
  • Good Hygiene 
    • Thoroughly wash your hands throughout the day, as pneumonia and the flu can be hard on your heart
    • Brush and floss your teeth every day to avoid inflammation and plaque forming in your heart arteries 
  • Get Enough Sleep 
    • The National Sleep Foundation suggests adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night 

The Importance of Heart Health for Service Members

Heart health is incredibly important for service members as it directly impacts their overall well-being during their high-stress duties. Military personnel need to maintain optimal heart health to ensure peak physical fitness and readiness. Recent studies have found that cardiovascular diseases may affect active-duty Army personnel worse compared to civilians. To help with this, the VA offers a range of services like diagnosis, treatment, and risk reduction of heart disease. 

It’s essential to schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, whether they’re at the VA or another facility, to assess your heart health and detect any potential signs of heart disease. Regular visits with your doctor can help with early detection and management of any heart-related conditions, ensuring overall well-being. 

 

Reduce Healthcare Costs with GEA’s Supplemental Insurance

When you or a loved one are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, the last thing you should be worrying about is medical costs. At GEA, we understand that. That’s why we offer top-notch supplemental plans that can help cover doctor visits, prescriptions, co-pays, and more. Visit our website to learn more.

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