woman holding decorative heart

Improve Heart Health in Unique Ways

One of the leading causes of death is cardiovascular disease. Although we cannot change certain risk factors such as age and family history, we can help prevent cardiovascular disease and hope to live a long, healthy life. You probably know that  exercise and a healthy diet can help keep our hearts strong, but there are other means to improve heart health that you may not know. Here are six unique ways you can keep your heart healthy.

 

Crank up the music


Several studies have shown that music can have several positive effects on our bodies including lowering stress and even blood pressure. A study at Massachusetts General Hospital also found that heart patients who were confined to bed had slower heart rates, lower blood pressure, and less distress when they listened to music for 30 minutes each day. 1 So, pull out your favorite tunes, sit back and enjoy the improved heart health! 

 

Have a laugh


We have all heard the Old Testament proverb that “laughter is the best medicine” and have experienced positive emotional effects of having a laugh. Science is proving that there are more than just emotional benefits to laughter, however. Consequently, laughter can also helps our hearts pump stronger!  As we laugh, our blood vessels enlarge in diameter. This in return increases the blood flow like when we participate in aerobic exercise.

 

The University of Maryland also conducted a study and discovered that when people laugh at a funny movie scene, they experience improved blood flow. 2 So, head to the movies, turn on your favorite comedian or sitcom, and enjoy some laughs! 

 

Be kind


We know that high stress levels are not good for our hearts. When we are upset, cortisol, our stress hormone, increases and our blood pressure and inflammation rises. When we experience positive emotions though, our oxytocin levels rise, helping to improve heart health, and our cortisol levels drop. Being kind to others makes us feel better emotionally and just might improve heart health.


Consider the Mediterranean Diet


Many studies have had positive heart health conclusions when studying the Mediterranean diet. According to a 2013 study from Spain, a Mediterranean style of eating can reduce heart disease risk by as much as 30%. 3

The Mediterranean diet consists of green vegetables, nuts, avocados, fruits, beans, high-fiber grains, olives and olive oil,  and an occasional side of small, wild fish such as salmon. In this diet, individuals seldom consume red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, sugary foods and drinks, and refined flours.


Love a Pet


Could your favorite canine or feline improve heart health? According to the American Heart Association (AHA), they can!  Studies show that having a pet can relieve stress, help increase fitness levels, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and increase happiness and wellbeing. 4

Studies on dog owners show that they tend to live longer, have lower risks for heart disease, better cholesterol profiles, less hypertension and are less vulnerable to stress. The reason for these positive results is not entirely clear, but it could be due to the fact that dog owners are generally more active than non-owners.  Either way, owning a pet who loves you unconditionally has plentiful emotional benefits.

If you’re not in a position to own a dog, local shelters often need volunteers to play with dogs. Consider playing with a friends dog or taking up dog walking and earn some extra cash too!

 

Offer a Hug


Oxytocin levels rise and cortisol level drop when we give and receive hugs. In a study by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, participants who hugged their partners had a slower heart rate up to 10 beats per minute than those who did not hug their partners.5

So, grab someone around you who needs a hug, and enjoy the improved heart health!

 

Good health is often about incorporating small changes in our routine. We hope this article encourages you to add some of these activities to your routine and  improve your heart health today!

Learn about Heart and Vascular Services at CCMH by visiting CCMHHealth.com/Heart-And-Vascular/.

 

Sources

1 Harvard Health Letter. Harvard Health Publishing. Nov. 2009. Using music to tune the heart.

2 Stein, Rob. Los Angeles Times. Apr. 2005.  Laughter helps blood go with the flow.

3 John Hopkins Medicine. Take Your Diet to the Mediterranean.

4 The American Heart Association. Apr. 2018. Can Your Pet Help You Be Healthier?

5 McColm, Jan. Endeavors. Jan. 2004. A Hug a Day  

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

runner on mountain path

Activities To Improve Heart Health

February is the month we dedicate as American Heart Month. Throughout February, we would like to encourage you to participate in activities to improve the health of your heart.

The heart is so important because it contains some of the body’s most valuable muscles. These muscles and the valves of the heart keep our blood moving and sustains our lives 24/7. As with all other muscles, we can improve the functionality of the heart with exercise.

Many of us are not fond of exercise, but it is very good for our bodies. Not only does regular exercise just help you live healthier and feel better, but it also helps protect you from the #1 killer in America, heart disease, and it can even add years to your life!

 

How should you exercise to help the heart?

 

If you are someone with a medical condition including a heart condition or diabetes, make an appointment to discuss what exercise routine is best in your situation.

If you are new to exercising regularly, start slow. We stick better to routines that are not too vigorous and overwhelmingly challenging. Aim for participating in 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Remember, any movement is good for you. You may be exercising and not even really realize it. As you participate in exercise, the large muscles of your body cause your heart to beat faster which strengthens them.

Don’t participate in an aerobic activity that you do not enjoy. This increases the chances of you abandoning the routine. To impact your heart, find time for moderate aerobic activity most days of the week for a total of around 2.5 hours. If you have a busy schedule, try breaking it into a few 10 to 15 minute sessions.

How does the heart benefit from exercise?


Exercise often leads to weight loss. If you’re overweight, losing even just a few pounds may significantly impact heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Exercise also reduces stress. Stress can contribute to other conditions which are factors in heart disease.

Lower blood pressure is also a positive result of exercise. 30-60 minutes of aerobic activity is recommended to help bring high blood pressure into healthy range.

Lower cholesterol is also a positive benefit of exercise.


What are some heart friendly forms of moderate exercise?


Dancing

Skiing

Yard work

Hiking

Softball

Tennis (doubles)

Swimming

Golfing without a golf cart

Bicycling

Moderate walking (around 3.5 mph)


What are some more vigorous forms of heart healthy exercise?


If you participate in all vigorous activities, aim for 75 minutes of exercise each week to benefit your heart.

Vigorous activities include:


Soccer

Basketball

Tennis (singles)

Cross-country skiing

Brisk walking (about 4.5 mph)

Jogging

Heavy yard work

Stair climbing

Hiking uphill

Bicycling over 10 mph

Jumping rope

 


How Do I Know If I’m Helping My Heart?


To ensure you are benefitting from aerobic activity  and increasing your heart health, track your heart rate. First, determine your resting heart rate. You can do so by counting your heart beats for 10 seconds and multiply that number by six.

Normal resting heart rate for adults is from 60 to 100 beats per minute. A lower resting heart rate is usually the result of more efficient heart function and cardiovascular fitness. A well-trained athlete might have a normal resting heart rate closer to 40 beats per minute for example.

Many factors influence heart rate, and there is a wide range of normal. Nevertheless, an unusually high or low heart rate can indicate a problem. Consult your doctor if your resting heart rate is above 100 beats a minute consistently or if your resting heart rate is below 60 beats a minute and you’re not a trained athlete.

During exercise, your heart rate should increase to about 50 to 85% of your maximum heart rate based on your age. For moderate intensity exercise, your target heart rate should increase to 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate. For vigorous exercise, your target heart rate should be 70 to 85% of your maximum heart rate.

You can determine what your maximum heart rate should be for your age by viewing this article by the American Heart Association.

When you first start exercising, aim for the lower number for your age range. As your fitness improves, you can gradually aim for the higher number. No matter your age, it’s never too late to make heart health a goal.

If you would like to learn about heart and vascular services offered at CCMH, please visit http://www.ccmhhealth.com/heart-and-vascular/.

 

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

The Toll of Stress: Shocking Effects on the Body

From money, to work issues to family problems, all of us experience stress. In fact, nearly 8 in 10 Americans report feeling significant stress daily. 1 Unless you are feeling especially overwhelmed, you probably don’t think much about it. Stress is something we should be more aware of though. Negative emotions may have many negative, physical effects on the body.

How does stress affect the body?

It may surprise you to know that a little stress can boost the immune system. Although, dealing with chronic stress lowers the immune system allowing illnesses to creep in. 2 Rarely is stress the root cause of diseases, but how it interacts with our genetics and health can accelerate the spread of disease.

Which diseases are caused by stress?

The short answer is, well, all of them! Stress can lead us to bad choices to try to cope. From overindulging in comfort foods to alcohol to smoking- stress is often the root cause of negative behaviors. Hormones increased by stress also lead to various conditions.

How does stress affect heart health?

All of the above mentioned bad coping devices, overindulging in alcohol or food and smoking, can lead to obesity and high blood pressure. These are known factors leading to heart problems including heart attack and stroke. Stress also reduces blood flow to the heart which is a cause of coronary heart disease. 3

How does stress affect the brain?

A staggering 5.5 million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s disease everyday. It is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. 4 Studies show that  links between Alzheimer’s and increased stress hormones such as cortisol may exist. High blood pressure may also lead to Alzheimer’s. In Sweden, researchers found high levels of stress hormones in the brains of mice created bigger amounts of beta-amyloid plaques, the proteins believed to cause Alzheimer’s. 5

How does stress affect fertility?

With approximately 1 in 8 couples struggling with infertility, we can’t help but wonder what role stress plays. Research in 2014 stated that high levels of stress may reduce semen and sperm quality. 6 Another study from 2014 found that women with high levels of a alpha-amylase, a stress-related enzyme in the saliva, were 29% less likely to become pregnant. They were also twice as likely to be infertile than women with low levels of the enzyme. 7

Stress plays a role in diabetes?

Most surprising of all is that scientist now believe a link exists between stress and type 2 diabetes. A study published by JAMA found women with post traumatic stress disorder in particular had almost double the risk of developing the disease than women who had not experienced trauma. 8 A possible explanation to this could be because stress increases the production of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol may raise glucose levels.

How do I tackle stress?

To tackle stress, seek support from others and engage in exercise daily. Exercise increases the production of “feel-good” neurotransmitters in the brain known as endorphins. We also posted an article: Managing Mental Health: There’s an App for That which has several apps that contain mood boosting exercises.  If you feel unable to cope with stress, are having suicidal thoughts, or using drugs or alcohol to cope, make an appointment with one of our providers today. You can find a list of them at http://www.ccmhhealth.com/providers/.

Sources

1 Saad, Lydia. Gallup. 20 Dec. 2017.  Eight in 10 Americans Afflicted by Stress.
2 Mohd. Razali Salle. 2008 Oct.  Life Event, Stress and Illness.
3 Nordqvist, Christian. Medical News Today. 19 Jan. 2018.Coronary heart disease: What you need to know.
4 Alzheimer’s Association. 2018. Facts and Figures.

5 Glynn, Sarah. Medical News Today. 19 Mar. 2013. Stress Can Lead To Alzheimer’s Disease.

6 Janevic, Teresa,Ph.D., et al.1 Aug. 2015. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Effects of work and life stress on semen quality.
7 Lynch, C.D., et al. 1 May 2014. Oxford Academic. Preconception stress increases the risk of infertility: results from a couple-based prospective cohort study—the LIFE study.

8 Roberts, Andrea L. PhD., et al. 15 Mar. JAMA Psychiatry.Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in a Sample of Women A 22-Year Longitudinal Study.

Disclaimer

The Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not provide specific medical advice for individual cases. Comanche County Memorial Hospital does not endorse any medical or professional services obtained through information provided on this site, articles on the site or any links on this site.

Use of the information obtained by the Comanche County Memorial Hospital website does not replace medical advice given by a qualified medical provider to meet the medical needs of our readers or others.

While content is frequently updated, medical information changes quickly. Information may be out of date, and/or contain inaccuracies or typographical errors. For questions or concerns, please contact us at contact@ccmhhealth.com.

Absorbable Stent

NEW Absorbable Stent Technology

Comanche County Memorial Hospital is the first hospital in the state of Oklahoma to perform a fully dissolvable stent procedure outside of a clinical trial.

The Absorb dissolving heart stent is the first and only device of its kind – a drug eluting coronary stent that dissolves, completely and naturally, in the body over time. Absorb treats coronary artery disease like a standard metallic stent, propping the diseased vessel open to restore blood flow, but then disappears after the artery is healed, leaving no metal behind to restrict natural vessel motion.

 

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