February is American Heart Month

Stuttgart Army Wellness Center

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease, according to The American Heart Association.

The anatomy of the heart— The heart is a muscle full of electric impulses located in the mid-left chest cavity weighing between 7 and 15 oz. (approximately the size of a fist). It beats and average of 100,000 times a day or 60-90 beats per minute for an average person; athletes, especially runners or bikers, tend to have a much lower heart beat sometimes averaging at around 46-55 beats per minute. The heart has four chambers, two atriums and two ventricles, these chambers help pump approximately 7.5 liters of oxygenated blood throughout the body through a complex network of arteries and capillaries, the body then returns un-oxygenated blood back to the heart through veins and venules (small veins). An amazing fact about this network of arteries and veins is that if laid end-to-end, they would extend to about 60,000 miles, that’s long enough of a string to circle the earth more than twice (Texas Heart Org., 2016).

Common ailments affecting the heart— Most people are born with a healthy heart, but as time goes by exposure to diseases or just living an unhealthy lifestyle can put your healthy heart in jeopardy. Some of the most common problems affecting the heart are murmurs, tachycardia (above normal fast heart beat), bradycardia (below the normal heart beats), angina (heart pain), and arrhythmia (heart beating out of normal rhythm). The most common disease affecting the heart, however, is Coronary Heart Disease which is caused by plaque build up inside the arteries causing an increase in blood pressure, and decrease in blood flow through the arteries; this eventually could lead to heart failure or a heart attack. Coronary Heart Disease kills more than 370,000 people every year (CDC, 2016).

Keeping your heart healthyAccording to the Mayo Clinic it is not necessary to make extreme changes in your lifestyle to have a healthy heart, everything you do matters. One of the most efficient ways to keep your heart healthy is to become less sedentary, even if you commit to only one hour of activity in the day like a simple walk, you will decrease your chances of heart disease. Think of the 5—4—3—2—1 rule: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily; 4 days of cardio exercise; 3 days of strength exercise; 2 times / year get your teeth cleaned; 1 time / year see your MD for a preventive check up. Also don’t forget to sleep at least 7-9 hours every day. Other methods of prevention you can do on your own is by limiting salt, sugar, fat, and alcohol in your diet, quit smoking, and learning how to manage your daily stress. All of these are possible without going into extreme measures; it will only take a little effort and commitment. Heart your heart and live longer.

The Wellness Center in Stuttgart provides health resources and education for achieving a healthy lifestyle to service members, family members, retirees, and DA civilians.

To schedule an appointment or unit assessment at the Wellness Center Bldg. 2337, Patch Barracks, call: DSN: 590-1601/civ. 0637194641601.