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Show Your Heart Health Some Love

Show Your Heart Health Some Love

Supporting Healthy Heart Function

As we move into the second month of the New Year, love is in the air! In light of American Heart Month, the health experts at Southwest General are here to share some simple ways you can express your love and gratitude to one of your most important organs!

Getting Rid of Bad Habits

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, regardless of racial or ethnic background. With heart disease widely affecting the American population, it is essential to do what you can to effectively prevent heart-related health issues from developing.


With that being said, there is a multitude of everyday habits that could hurt your cardiovascular health. Here are a few of the most common lifestyle choices harming your heart-health that you should consider changing sooner rather than later:

Heavy Drinking

While drinking alcohol in moderation is okay, when you binge drink or drink excessively, it can result in chronic health issues—including those that affect your heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use can lead to the following cardiovascular issues:

  • Cardiomyopathy (disease of the heart muscle)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

Smoking Cigarettes

Smoking cigarettes negatively affects almost every area of your physical health, making it the leading cause of preventable diseases, including diseases that affect your cardiovascular system. When you inhale cigarette smoke, you are inhaling hundreds of chemicals that make it harder for oxygen to flow to your heart and inhibit your heart’s ability to pump oxygen throughout your body.


The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) states that smoking cigarettes and inhaling cigarettes smoke can lead to the following heart-related health issues:

  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Aneurysms
  • Peripheral artery disease

Skipping Out On Sleep

Getting enough sleep is vital for supporting the healthy function of various organ systems in your body, including the cardiovascular system. When you skip out on the recommended seven to nine hours of good-quality sleep, it can leave you at an increased risk of heart-related health problems.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), not getting enough rest can lead to the development of the following heart-related health problems:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity

Stressing Out Too Much

While it’s normal to experience elevated stress levels now and then, excessive exposure to your body’s stress response can be detrimental to your heart health.


According to Harvard Medical School, acute stress, which is severe and sudden, can result in an immediate heart attack. On the other hand, everyday stressors and prolonged exposure to your body’s stress response can result in the following issues, which can lead to heart disease:

  • Inflammation
  • Eating fatty and high-cholesterol comfort foods
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Drinking alcohol

Building Healthful Habits

After cutting out habits that are harmful to your cardiovascular system, you can replace them with those that help support a strong heart. Here are a few simple ways to give your heart a healthful boost!

Eat a Healthy Breakfast at Home

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not make it a healthy one? Although you may be tempted to stop in the drive-through for a quick bite while you’re in a rush, try to set aside some time each morning to have a heart-healthy meal at home.


Some nutrient-dense and heart-healthy foods to add to your morning meal include:

  • Steel-cut oatmeal
  • Whole grain and high-fiber cereals
  • Whole grain toast or English muffins
  • Eggs, egg-whites or egg substitutes
  • Greek yogurt
  • Berries like strawberries and blueberries
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Seeds like flax seeds and chia seeds
  • Fresh fruit like oranges and bananas
  • Flax seeds
  • Fruit smoothies

Stay Physically Active

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) recommends that adults aim to fit in two and a half hours (150 minutes) of physical activity each week. Although this may seem like a mighty goal, that averages out to about 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week.


One way to make this goal more attainable is to find a physical activity that you and your loved ones can enjoy together! Try incorporating some of the following activities to get your heart and your family’s hearts pumping:

  • Hiking
  • Bike riding
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi
  • Gardening
  • Dance
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Archery
  • Rock climbing
  • Paintball
  • Mountain biking
  • Martial arts

Cut Out Sugary Sodas and Juices

According to Harvard Medical School, having a diet that is high in added sugars increases your risk of developing and dying from heart disease. One of the easiest ways to cut down on your sugar intake is to limit your consumption of sugary drinks like sodas and sweetened juices.


The next time you’re feeling parched, try reaching for one of these healthier options:

  • Unsweetened tea
  • Natural fruit juices without added sugar
  • Coffee
  • Water

Spread the Love By Donating Blood

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the United States needs blood. Whether it’s used for surgical procedures, the treatment of chronic illnesses or traumatic injuries, a single blood donation can help save the lives of up to three people.


If you’re wondering how your selfless gift can help others, here’s what you should know about the different types of blood donation.

Whole Blood Donation

When it comes to whole blood donation, your blood is donated in its original form. This type of blood donation is the most versatile as it can be broken down into separate components as needed. All blood types are ideal candidates for this type of donation.

Platelet Donation

With platelet donation, the small cells called platelets found in your blood that form blood clots are donated. During this process, an apheresis machine is used to collect your platelets, returning red blood cells, and most of your plasma back to your body.


The following blood types are the ideal candidates for this type of donation:

  • A positive
  • A negative
  • B positive
  • B negative
  • AB positive
  • AB negative

Plasma Donation

Your plasma is the liquid component of your blood that makes up about half of your blood's composition. Although your plasma is mostly made up of water, it also includes proteins, salts, sugars, hormones and vitamins. During the donation process, your plasma is collected in a process that separates your plasma from your blood's other components and returns them to your body.


Ideal candidates for this type of blood donation are either AB negative or AB positive., as AB plasma can be administered to anyone regardless of their blood type.

Primary and Specialty Care in Ohio

The Southwest General Medical Group, Inc. includes both primary care and specialty care physicians who are committed to providing patients with high-quality medical care. Our team of board-certified specialists and skilled physicians work to raise the bar for excellence in health care service for our community. To learn more about our primary and specialty care services or to schedule an appointment, visit our website.