Heart Month – Love Your Heart!
February is Heart Month! It’s that time of year to become more aware of and to celebrate our heart. After all, the fist-sized organ literally pumps life through our bodies non-stop. The heart never stops working, but that doesn’t mean it’s in tip-top shape. There is a chance that even if you’re not experiencing symptoms, you can still be at-risk for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD). If we can learn more about the heart’s structure and how it works, we will be in an improved state to build a more in-depth relationship with our heart. By knowing our body, we can have a happier and healthier life. This is the least we can do for our hard-working, four-chambered friend.
How Does My Heart Work?
The heart is a muscular organ and a component of the circulatory system. The wall of the heart is made up of three layers: the outer layer is called the epicardium, the middle layer is called the myocardium, and the inner layer is called the endocardium. The heart is enclosed in a double-membraned sac called the pericardium. It is the heart’s job to receive blood from the veins and push it out through the arteries, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the body. The heart receives signals from the brain that regulate its rate and the heart’s rhythm is determined by a group of cells located in the right atrium (called the sinus node).
Did you know?
- Your left lung is smaller to accommodate the position of the heart
- Your heart is controlled by an electrical system
- Your heart will beat on average, 115,000 times each day
Living Healthy is Key to Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease
You may think that your heart is in fine shape because you can’t feel anything that would say otherwise, but alas, the heart may be silent even when it’s not feeling well. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death for both men and women in the United States and is also the number one deadliest silent killer. CVD includes diseases that affect the heart and blood vessels. According to the World Health Organization, “Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and they include:
- coronary heart disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart muscle
- cerebrovascular disease – disease of the blood vessels supplying the brain
- peripheral arterial disease – disease of blood vessels supplying the arms and legs
- rheumatic heart disease – damage to the heart muscle and heart valves from rheumatic fever, caused by streptococcal bacteria
- congenital heart disease – malformations of heart structure existing at birth
- deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism – blood clots in the leg veins, which can dislodge and move to the heart and lungs”
For the most part, Cardiovascular Disease can be prevented. Because CVD is generally a preventive disease, it is vitally important to stay healthy and follow these lifestyle suggestions as recommended by the American Heart Association:
- Eat Smart – add color to your diet, manage portions, and check for the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark certification
- Move more – set doable goals, sit less, try to get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise each week
- Be Well – stay hydrated and get enough sleep
How to Love Your Heart More
As we go through February, take the time to learn if you have any risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease such as genetic factors, age, gender, or tobacco use (among others). If you find yourself saying yes to risk factors, you should make an appointment to speak with your doctor. With your doctor you want to evaluate your lifestyle and be prepared to make changes:
- Could you be eating a little better?
- Are you moving and exercising enough?
- Is your blood pressure or cholesterol too high?
- Do you smoke – it’s time to quit
- Are you over-stressed?
- Do you need to lower your alcohol consumption?
Next-Generation Treatment Through Clinical Trials
If you and your health care team are looking for next-generation treatment for your cardiovascular issues, it maybe the perfect time to pursue clinical research as a care option. I recommend to search for clinical research opportunities on TrialScout.com. TrialScout is a patient facing platform that has taken the clinicaltrials.gov database and re-configured it to make searching for a clincial trial a synch. It also allows clinical trial participants share their experiences at a research center after each visit.
You're heart is an important muscle in your body. Now is the time to take action and promote your hearts health.
Written by Amy Rochford
Amy is a data analyst and self-described jack-of-all-trades at TrialScout. Amy is a transplant who moved to Buffalo three years ago, bringing experience from multiple industries including clinical trial operations, physician office management, and travel and tourism management. Amy’s time is consumed by her husband, two young boys, two dogs, and many foster dogs.