February is American Heart Month
Lower the (Blood) Pressure during American Heart Month
February is American Heart Month and as a leading community-based network committed to improving the nation’s health, the YMCA of Central Ohio urges everyone in Columbus to help prevent heart disease by lowering your blood pressure. Two ways to keep the pressure off your heart are by monitoring your blood pressure and reducing sodium intake.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, responsible for 1 in 4 deaths each year in the United States. Additionally, 1 in 3 adults has high blood pressure with less than half having it under control. High blood pressure is most prevalent in minority communities, and is often referred to as “The Silent Killer” because there are typically no warning signs or symptoms.
To address the prevalence of heart disease, the Y has made a national commitment to the Million Hearts campaign, an initiative spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, that aims to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes. As part of this commitment, the YMCA of Central Ohio encourages heart health through the Diabetes Prevention Program.
The YMCA of Central Ohio is increasing the availability of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program – which is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles to help reduce their chances of developing the disease. Type 2 diabetes is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and people with diabetes are twice as likely to have heart disease or suffer a stroke as those who do not have it.
The program provides a supportive environment where participants work together in a small group to learn about eating healthier, increasing their physical activity and making other behavior changes with the goal of reducing body weight by 7 percent in order to reduce their risk for developing diabetes. A trained lifestyle coach leads the program over a 12-month period beginning with 16 weekly sessions followed by monthly maintenance sessions. Increased physical activity and moderate weight loss not only reduce diabetes risk, but also have an impact on lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Besides monitoring your blood pressure, reducing sodium intake is a great way to keep your heart healthy. According to the American Heart Association, too much sodium in your system puts an extra burden on your heart and blood vessels. In some people, this may lead to or raise high blood pressure. Everyone, including kids, should reduce their sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day (about 1 teaspoon of salt). Having less sodium in your diet may help you lower or avoid high blood pressure.
“Having a handle on your blood pressure is an effective tool in the prevention of heart disease,” said Caroline Rankin, director of chronic disease and prevention programs. “Whether you have high blood pressure or are at risk for heart disease, the Y has many options available that can help.”