February is American Heart Month: Treat Yourself to Improved Heart Health
February is American Heart Month, urging us to prioritize our cardiovascular well-being to achieve better heart health. As heart disease continues to be the greatest health threat to Americans and the leading cause of death worldwide, now is the perfect time to focus on preventive care and to learn how personalized health plans make it easier to approach the challenges surrounding heart disease.
According to the AHA’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2021 Update, nearly 18.6 million people globally succumbed to cardiovascular disease in 2019, marking a 17.1% increase over the past decade. With 523.2 million reported cases in the same year, a 26.6% rise since 20101, it’s evident that comprehensive heart health care is more critical than ever.
Decoding Heart Disease
The term “heart disease” encompasses various conditions, with coronary artery disease (CAD) being the most prevalent in the United States. Recognizing the symptoms is crucial, as heart disease can often be “silent” until a person experiences signs or symptoms of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia.
- Heart attack symptoms: Chest pain, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
- Arrhythmia symptoms: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
- Heart failure symptoms: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
Identifying Risk Factors
High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease, affecting nearly 47% of Americans2. Other factors include diabetes, obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, smoking, family history, age, history of preeclampsia, early menopause, and mental health disorders. The level of risk you face is influenced by various factors, such as the ones listed above, with some being modifiable while others remain constant. Risk factors encompass conditions or habits that increase the likelihood of developing a disease, and these factors can vary from person to person.
Some risk factors cannot be changed. These include age, sex, and a family history of early heart disease. Many others can be modified. For example, being more physically active and eating healthy are important steps for your heart health as 37.7% of US adults3 are classified as obese. You can make the changes gradually, one at a time, to improve your heart health, but making them is very important.
The Mental Health Connection
Recent studies reveal a significant connection between mental health issues and factors that increase the risk of heart disease.4 Long-term experiences of depression, anxiety, stress, and PTSD can affect the body’s functioning, leading to heightened heart reactivity, decreased blood flow, and increased cortisol levels. Mental health disorders might also raise the likelihood of adopting unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, or neglecting prescribed medications. This is because individuals dealing with mental health disorders may have fewer effective strategies to cope with stress, making it challenging for them to make healthy lifestyle choices and reduce their risk of heart disease.
This connection emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to heart health, including monitoring and improving emotional well-being. Recuro Health allows eligible patients the opportunity to work directly with their Behavioral Health network of psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors who work together with your Recuro Primary Care Provider (PCP) to achieve your health goals.*
Your Heart-Healthy Partnership with Recuro Health
The key to staying healthy, or improving your health, is to schedule regular check-ups with your doctor. Determine your heart health by booking a virtual appointment with your Recuro Health PCP. Your PCP is an essential partner in helping you set and reach goals for heart health, and they can easily order blood tests, including ones that measure cholesterol and A1C levels, and even send you a blood pressure cuff if needed.
Key Questions to Ask Your Recuro Health PCP During Your Appointment:
- What is my risk of developing heart disease?
- What is my blood pressure, and what does it mean for me?
- What are my cholesterol numbers, and what do they mean for me?
- Do I need to lose weight for my health?
- What is my blood sugar level, and does it indicate diabetes risk?
- What other screening tests for heart disease do I need?
Make Heart Health Part of Your Care Routine with a Personalized Plan from Recuro Health Physicians
Recuro Health PCPs play a pivotal role in helping you prevent heart disease by identifying your risk, setting realistic prevention goals, and supporting lifestyle changes. These changes may include regularly checking and managing your blood pressure, increasing physical activity, making healthier food choices, quitting smoking, and more. Our physicians always look for ways to improve your heart health by setting realistic goals.
Devoting a little time daily to self-care can go a long way toward protecting your heart. Simple practices like stress reduction, regular exercise, healthier meal preparation, and prioritizing sleep all play a part in preventing heart disease.
Book Your Virtual Appointment Today
Heart disease is largely preventable, and your journey to a healthier heart starts with Recuro Health. Book a virtual appointment with one of our Recuro Health Primary Care Providers to get started on a personalized health plan that addresses heart disease risks and focuses on prevention. Your heart deserves the attention – put your heart into your daily routine with Recuro Health.
You must first download the Recuro Care App, before booking an appointment.
*Plan configuration & services available may vary. Reach out to your plan administrator or Recuro Health’s Customer Service for a comprehensive list of your covered services at 855-6RECURO (855-673-2876).
- AHA’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics – 2021 Update
- Tsao CW, Aday AW, Almarzooq ZI, Beaton AZ, Bittencourt MS, Boehme AK, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2023;147:e93–e621.