PTC Blog

February is American Heart Awareness month which brings attention to the growing epidemic in America. According to the CDC 630,000 people die each year from heart related illnesses which is about ¼ of all deaths in the United States. Another eye opening statistic in the United States is, every 40 seconds someone has a heart attack! Heart disease is not only affecting our older populations but the young as well, as we have grown into more sedentary lifestyles. Heart disease is a term used to describe several different heart conditions with the most common being coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD is a buildup of plaque in the artery walls which supply blood to the heart and other parts of the body. About ½ of all Americans have one of the top 3 risk factors for heart disease. The top 3 risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking. If you have a family history of heart disease you are at a greater risk. Thankfully there are many things you can do to decrease your chances of getting heart disease such as:

  • Maintaining good blood pressure and keeping cholesterol under control with a healthy diet and exercise. Get it checked yearly to know your numbers.
  • A healthy diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean meats. Limit saturated fats, trans fats, foods high in sodium and added sugar.
  • Exercise regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Moderate intensity activity includes a brisk walk (at least 2.5 mph), water aerobics, gardening and biking (slower than 10 mph). Vigorous activity includes running, hiking uphill, biking faster than 10 mph, aerobic dance and heavy yard work. If you are just starting out on becoming more active, try breaking up the day in 10 minute bouts 2-3 times per day. Kids ages 3-5 should have plenty of opportunities throughout the day to be active. Kids ages 6-17 should perform 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day. Getting enough exercise will also decrease stress levels which extreme stress levels can be a trigger for a heart attack.
  • Limit alcohol. Alcohol can increase blood pressure and the extra calories can cause weight gain.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking can also increase blood pressure. It decreases the oxygen in the blood and damages the lining of the arteries creating plaque buildup narrowing blood flow to the heart.
  • Drink plenty of water. It is recommended to drink 64oz of water a day and in recent findings trying to aim more for half you body weight in ounces. Example: if you weigh 170 lbs try to drink 85oz of water. Water keeps all our organs working more efficiently and decreases blood thickness allowing it to travel to an from the heart better.
  • Get adequate sleep. Adults are recommended to get between 7-9 hours of sleep a night. When sleep is decreased it increases the risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

Overall making healthy lifestyle changes can decrease the risk or heart disease. Follow up with your medical doctor when starting a new program to address any concerns and ensure a safe program. Working with a physical therapist can also help create a program for you, tailored to fit your abilities and goals.

Kerra Pietsch, LPTA, CFNC, ACE CPT
Physical Therapist Assistant
Andover Physical Therapy


February 6th, 2019

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