Tips for a Healthy Heart: Give Your Heart Some Love

6 Min. Read  |  February 22, 2021

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The emotional health of our hearts tends to take center stage in February, but that doesn’t mean the physical health of our hearts isn’t equally as important. It’s not just red roses and chocolate on Valentine’s Day. February is also American Heart Month and a chance to educate yourself and your loved ones about making choices that may help prevent heart disease.

Despite incredible advances in science and medicine, heart disease remains the leading cause of death worldwide, according to the American Heart Association. Fortunately, even though it is known as the “silent killer,” there are ways to get ahead of it.  Knowing your predisposition to certain cardiovascular conditions and monitoring real-time health today can prepare you to act quickly should a heart-related problem begin to develop. You can also use that information to make heart-healthy lifestyle choices that can help extend and improve the quality of your life.

We know knowledge is power. By understanding their health picture in ways they never thought possible, our members have the opportunity to take control of their health and get ahead of health concerns – heart related and otherwise – that may arise down the road. This has become even more important as the pandemic continues.

COVID-19 and Heart Disease

The fields of medicine and science have come together in unprecedented ways to better understand why some of us are more susceptible than others to the severe complications associated with COVID-19 infections. Epidemiologists have found that patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) are more than twice as likely to experience severe complications from COVID-19, and cardiovascular complications have been shown to contribute to approximately 40% of all COVID-19 related deaths.

It’s possible that this risk may be tied to genetic mutations many people acquire in their blood cells as they age – called clonal hematopoiesis or CH.  Increasing evidence over the past few years has shown a clear link between CH and cardiovascular disease, and GoodCell is developing a test to see if these types of genetic mutations correlate with increased risk for severe response to COVID-19.

Until vaccines and other measures get COVID-19 under better control, your best bet to stay healthy—in addition to following public safety guidelines— is to maintain good heart health. We brought together some of the top tips for heart health to keep in mind this month and all year long.

Stay Active

Fitness and heart health often go hand in hand, and for good reason. The benefits are powerful. Exercise has been proven to help with weight control and muscle strength. It also lowers blood pressure, which is a key indicator of heart disease. Regular exercising can lower your blood pressure and help you avoid hypertension—constantly elevated blood pressure that can harm your arteries and over time lead to heart disease, stroke and other conditions.

It doesn’t take much to put yourself on the path of heart health. Research has shown a 30-minute walk each day can lower your susceptibility to heart disease by 35%. Whether it’s dancing, swimming, cycling, or walking, the most important thing is getting your body in motion and finding an exercise you enjoy. Doing so will help you stick with it and continue reaping its benefits long term.

The Heart, Mind and Tummy

Symbolically, the heart is tied to our emotions, but your mental health can also impact the wellbeing of your heart. Stress releases adrenaline, a hormone that can make you breath faster, increase your heart rate, and cause your blood pressure to rise.

Additionally, when people are stressed, they may make dietary decisions they wouldn’t normally make, such as breaking open the cookie jar instead of grabbing an apple. Everyone knows the need to have a balanced, nutrient rich diet, and the AHA provides a handy reminder of these basic guidelines. Vitamin D deficiencies can also impact our mental health and have become even more common during a winter season compounded by prolonged work-from-home and isolation mandates.  Properly managing stress and diet are just some of the lifestyle decisions you can make to maintain a healthier, happier you.

While these are generally good practices for everyone, each of us is unique. Our health regiments should be, too. The GoodCell General Health Panel is a great place to start for a broad picture of your body’s health baselines across major health concerns, including cardiovascular disease, pre-diabetes/diabetes, and vitamin D deficiency. By proactively benchmarking your health today, you can identify changes that are right for you and track your progress to inform other changes or course corrections as you age.

Keeping your heart strong may seem complicated, but the small decisions you make every day can have a big impact. Learn more about the benefits of investing in a healthier future with GoodCell here.

You’ve got this, and we’ve got you.