A Fresh Look at Heart Health in 2020

by Melissa Chichester

Every February, people in the United States recognize American Heart Month.

People all over the country unite to create awareness about heart disease and strokes. Although this is a month designated in the US, heart disease impacts people all over the world. If you haven’t already, now is a great time to refresh your knowledge on heart health, including the differences between men and women, and what supplements and foods naturally nourish your ticker! 

Heart health for men

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), heart disease remains the leading cause of death for men in the United States. That includes all races except for Asian American or Pacific Islander men, in which heart disease is second to cancer. That doesn’t only mean these men suffer from heart attacks. Arrhythmia and heart failure are other common causes of heart disease. 

Signs of heart disease in men often go unnoticed. This is why it is so important to know the lifestyle factors that lead to heart disease, including smoking, diabetes, physical activity, obesity, and excessive alcohol use. Genetics also play a large role in heart health. If heart disease runs in your family, it is essential to get regular screenings to monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol, and more. 

Other ways to stay prepared include knowing the signs of having a heart attack. For men, this includes:

  • Pressure or squeezing in the chest, arm, back, or jaw
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Cold sweats

If you think you are experiencing a heart attack, calling 911 is essential.

Heart health for women 

Women can support heart health in many ways that are similar to men; however, there are some differences between the genders. Unfortunately, many women believe that heart health is only a concern for men.

The American Heart Association states that while cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of women in the United States, only one in five American women believes that heart disease is the biggest threat to their health.

Men and women share similar risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and the same healthy lifestyle habits should occur whether you are a man or a woman. One thing women can take note of how the signs of a heart attack differ between men and women. 

While women are likely to also experience chest pain and discomfort in the same regions of the body, women are more prone to the following heart attack signs:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Back/jaw pain
  • Lightheadedness 

Because of this difference, some women don’t seek medical attention immediately due to not realizing they are having a heart attack. 

>>How to Read Cholesterol and Heart Health Test Results

How to support heart health

As the years go by, heart health remains one of the top concerns for people around the world, including researchers. It is important to remember that heart health is a concern for people of all ages, not just seniors or those middle-aged and older.

Every day, young and older people struggle with obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, and physical inactivity that contribute to cardiovascular problems.

That’s why it is important to get the latest information when it comes to supporting heart health. 

Four ways you can take control of heart health right now include quitting smoking; eating a diet low in sodium, sugar, saturated fat, and trans fat; exercising for at least 150 minutes per week; and working with your healthcare practitioner to set meaningful goals.  

Fresh fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, lean proteins, berries, and whole grains are heart-healthy staples to include in your diet. 

There are also some surprising supplements that can help nourish your heart, including: 

  • Lycopene, an antioxidant that supports not only heart health but also prostate health**
  • Co Q-10, a fat-soluble antioxidant that helps replenish Co Q-10 levels depleted by statin medications**
  • Krill oil, which contains EPA and DHA, two nutrients that are known for their ability to support a healthy heart and their impact on joint comfort and flexibility.**
  • Berberine, an alkaloid that supports heart health and helps maintain cholesterol and triglyceride levels that are already within a normal range.**
  • Nattokinase, a beneficial enzyme derived from fermented soybeans.**

If you are feeling more overwhelmed than inspired, take baby steps! Make a commitment to make one small change every day. And to further empower yourself, read a new book from the library about heart health, or cook a nourishing new recipe. By taking small steps, you can change your heart health for the better day by day.