HEART HEALTH BASICS- Naples YMCAWith February being American Heart Month, it is time to review how important it is to keep your heart healthy.  Our heart health is dependent on a variety of factors including our diet, genetic factors, and activity level.  If you have a family history of heart disease it is even more important to pay attention to the factors that affect your heart health.

During a physical, your physician should be checking for things like resting heart rate and blood pressure.  Our resting heart rate is one indicator of how strong our heart is.  While other factors can affect our resting heart rate, we should have a rate between 60-100 beats per minute.  A heart rate lower than 60 or higher than 100 indicates that there may be an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.  The next indicator to keep an eye on is our blood pressure.  Our blood pressure is the pressure that is put on our artery walls.  Our arteries are the vessels that carry blood away from our heart and out to the rest of the body delivery oxygen and nutrients to our cells.  Our blood pressure should read at or below 120/80.  The first number represents the pressure on our artery walls when the heart is contracted, or actively pumping the blood out.  The second number represents the pressure on our artery walls when our hearts are not actively pumping, or what happens in between the “beats” of the heart.  It is important to keep our blood pressure at or near 120/80 as that is the optimal pressure for our heart health.

Should you find that your blood pressure consistently is above those numbers through self-checks, it is time to have a conversation with your doctor.  Bring evidence to your doctor that you’ve been tracking your heart rate and your blood pressure with dates and times that you’ve tracked your numbers.  This will start a conversation with your doctor and equip them to better solve your health concern.  Another number to consider is our cholesterol levels.  Cholesterol is a substance that your body creates, and we also develop it in our system from the food we consume.  When cholesterol is in our system, it can attach to our artery walls.  Having artery walls that have cholesterol deposits on them not only constricts those vessels (and can raise your blood pressure) but is also makes the arteries less flexible and responsive to changes in our blood pressure.  Not all cholesterol is “bad” as there are two types of cholesterol.  The “bad”
cholesterol is called LDL, or low-density lipoprotein.  LDL is the cholesterol that can deposit on the artery walls, causing them to narrow and harden.

The “good” cholesterol is the type of cholesterol that seeks out the “bad” cholesterol and removes it from your body.  Triglycerides are another factor to consider when looking at your cholesterol levels.  Triglycerides are associated with heart disease and are caused by diet, physical inactivity, and other factors like smoking.

While these are just a few of the terms and numbers to be aware of to take care of your heart, it is important to focus on a diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables and maintain an active lifestyle.  The Greater Naples YMCA can help you keep your spirit, mind, and body health through an active lifestyle.  If you’re interested in learning more about heart health, please join us on Wednesday February 25, 2015 at 11:00am in the Conference Room with Dr. Anita Arnold, a Cardiologist with Lee Memorial Health System.  Dr. Arnold will have a twenty minute lecture on heart health, followed up by a meet and greet session where guests can get their questions answered by Dr. Arnold.  Should you have any further questions please call us at 239-597-3148 or email Beth Jameson, Director of Wellness, at bjameson@greaternaplesymca.org. www.GreaterNaplesYMCA.org

Greater Naples YMCA  |  5450 YMCA Road, Naples, FL 34109  |  (239) 597-3148

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