February is American Heart Month. This month is meant to promote a healthy-heart lifestyle and to understand the risk facts associated with heart disease. Take a moment this February to think about how you are taking care of your heart health.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is a general term that includes multiple heart conditions. Coronary heart disease is where the arteries of the heart cannot deliver enough blood to the heart.
Coronary heart disease can be caused by many factors. But often it is caused by cholesterol. Cholesterol can build up inside the lining of arteries causing plaque buildup. The buildup can cause blockages which stop blood flow to the heart.
Often, symptoms show too late. Symptoms of heart disease can be chest pain, a heart attack from the blood flow being blocked, or the heart stops working.
Unfortunately, some risk factors like age, sex, family history, and race and ethnicity cannot be changed to help avoid heart disease. There are lifestyle factors that can increase your risk of heart disease such as:
Some medical conditions add to the risk of heart disease as well.
To understand your risk for heart disease, learn more here.
Leading Cause of Death
The leading cause of death in the United States is coronary heart disease. 18.2 million American adults have coronary heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Coronary heart disease affects the larger coronary arteries, while another type called coronary microvascular disease affects tiny arteries in the heart.
There are methods that help prevent heart disease. For example, annual checkups with your doctor can help keep track of your blood pressure and cholesterol. If either of those risk factors start to become worrisome, your doctor can prescribe medicine or lifestyle changes to help.
Choosing heart healthy food can make a significant difference in preventing heart disease. Limiting your sodium, sugar, saturated fats, and alcohol intake can help. Eating more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and protein rich foods is a terrific way to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Another way to live a heart-healthy lifestyle is participating in regular exercise. Taking walks around the neighborhood, going to the gym, or even using a walking pad as you work from home can be great methods to increase your physical activity. Physical activity also helps manage your stress levels. Remaining stressed for lengthy periods of time can be harmful.
How We Can Help
AFSPA’s Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP) has multiple options to help you prevent heart disease. FSBP offers wellness rewards after completing preventive and healthy action items like taking your annual Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and getting an annual physical exam & biometric screening. Just by getting these done, FSBP members age 18+ can earn $175 in wellness rewards. Learn more about other healthy action items where you can earn more wellness rewards (up to $400).
FSBP also provides special programs specifically for your heart health. From lifestyle coaching programs to Livongo’s Remote Hypertension Monitoring program, there are ways to start your heart health journey.
Lastly, check out one of our recent episodes of AFSPA Talks. Kyle Longton, AFSPA’s COO, discusses support for New Year’s Resolutions in this episode. Listen to hear more details about what FSBP can offer you.