Make Heart Health Work for YouTime isn’t the only thing ticking away while you’re at work. Your heart is, too, and it’s probably working a lot harder than that clock mounted to the lobby wall at your office. In fact, the average heart beats about 100,000 times each day, pumping approximately 2,000 gallons of blood through the human anatomy’s amazing 60,000 miles of blood vessels.
Without question, the most important muscle in the body is the heart, and we all know that living a long, healthy life hinges on taking good care of it. While improved diagnosis and treatment methods have considerably reduced the occurrence of cardiovascular disease, it continues to be the leading cause of death and disability in the United States.
In addition to the physical suffering that cardiovascular disease inflicts, it comes with a hefty price tag for our nation — one that does not stop short of affecting the workplace. According to the American Heart Association’s 2010 statistics, cardiovascular disease in the US was responsible for direct and indirect costs totaling $503 billion, with approximately $179 billion of that in lost productivity. So, while cardiovascular disease rates have dropped drastically over the past 50 years, there’s still a lot of work to be done (and a lot that isn’t getting done) on account of cardiovascular disease.
If every cloud has a silver lining, cardiovascular disease’s is this: Most forms are preventable. There are steps that everyone can take to help prevent cardiovascular disease — even working professionals who may be sedentary most of the day.
1. Kick the habit. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease (not to mention breathing problems and lung cancer) is to quit smoking. Nicotine decreases oxygen to the heart, increases blood pressure and heart rate, increases blood clotting and damages cells that line the coronary arteries and other blood vessels.
2. Exercise more. Just 30 minutes of exercise each day can reduce your risk of heart disease, and you can accumulate these minutes during the workday with a few simple modifications. Bring tennis shoes and take a 30-minute walk or climb stairs during lunch. Or, ride your bike or walk to and from work. You can even squeeze in “mini-workouts” by walking briskly from your car to the office in the morning. More is better, but any time spent exercising will have a positive impact on your heart.
3. Eat better. The foods you put into your body can decrease or even eliminate your risk of heart disease by helping to lower your cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar and by reducing body weight. Generally speaking, eating more fish, fruits and vegetables, avoiding trans fats and processed meats, and limiting sugar and salt intake benefit overall heart health. Keep this in mind when you pack your lunch for work and when you reach for an afternoon snack.
4. Manage your stress. Life is full of stressors, and certainly, every job can be stressful. However, learn to control your stress — don’t let it control you. Unmanaged stress takes a toll on cardiovascular health and can lead to coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, chest pains and irregular heartbeat.
5. Visit your doctor. As a working professional, finding time for physician visits can be challenging. That said, it’s critical that you see a physician regularly to ensure you are taking the right heart-healthy approaches and receiving any necessary tests and screenings. If you’re one of the 82 million Americans with a cardiovascular condition, McLaren Greater Lansing is an excellent source for comprehensive care. A designated Primary Stroke Center and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Cardiac Center of Excellence, McLaren Greater Lansing offers the services of leading cardiovascular experts and a congestive heart failure clinic.
Living the life of a busy professional doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your heart’s health. If you’re currently making cardiovascular disease prevention a priority in your life, keep up the good work. If you’re not, now is a great time to start. You can reap big benefits from making just a few changes to your lifestyle. Following the tips listed above will not only help you get heart healthy, it will likely give you more energy, help reduce any anxiety and increase your overall effectiveness and productivity as an employee.
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease is a term that includes many diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Some of the more common of these include:
• Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
• Congestive heart failure
• Coronary artery disease
• Heart attack
• Peripheral arterial disease
| ||Mohan Madala, MD, is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and interventional cardiology and practices at McLaren Cardiovascular Group.|