Reduce your stress during American Heart Month
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. In fact, half of all Americans are currently considered “at risk” for heart disease, and that number continues to rise. Due to the prevalence of the disease, February is recognized as American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and prevention. To celebrate, you can focus on lowering your stress level, so that you can live well and work well in February 2022.
Stress and heart health
Although there are risk factors that contribute to heart disease that you can not control, there are many things you can do to maintain your heart health. One of these things is to reduce your stress. Having too much stress for too long is bad for your heart.
Some people can manage their stress with bad health behaviors – such as smoking, eating unhealthy foods and drinking alcohol. Such behavior can put you at increased risk for heart disease and stroke.
Take care of your stress
Managing stress is good for your health and well-being. Taking steps to reduce your stress will improve your overall health. Try these tips:
- Simplify your schedule. If you feel in a hurry or too busy, prioritize important things in your calendar and to-do lists.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Try listening to relaxing music to help you calm down, or watch stress management or relaxation classes.
- Get enough sleep. Adults should strive for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night.
- Regular training. Exercise can make your blood and endorphins flow, relieve stress, tension, anxiety and depression.
- Maintain social contacts. It is important to set aside time for friends and family and to talk to people you trust.
If the stress in your life becomes more than you can bear or handle with these techniques, consider seeking professional help.
Benefits of reducing your alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol use is responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults each year, according to the CDC. Excessive alcohol consumption has immediate effects that increase the risks associated with injuries, motor vehicle accidents and alcohol poisoning. It can also cause serious long-term health problems such as liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression and cancer.
In addition to lowering your risk for these short- and long-term effects, there are several health benefits to drinking less. By eliminating or reducing alcohol, you can experience:
- Increased energy
- Better sleep quality
- Improved mental health
- Strengthened immune system
- Fresher skin
After weighing the risks and benefits of alcohol, you may want to consider reducing your alcohol consumption. If you or a loved one is concerned about alcohol use, talk to a physician or use the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline by calling 800-662-HELP (4357).
Should you take daily aspirin for your heart?
The US Preventive Services Task Force recently amended its guidelines on acetylsalicylic acid use and stated that most adults do not need to take aspirin to prevent first heart attacks or strokes. This change to a long-term recommendation is based on new evidence that the potential harm of acetylsalicylic acid – including major bleeding – removes the benefits. Here is an overview of the new guide:
- Adults between the ages of 40 and 59 who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease but do not have a history of it should decide with their caregiver whether to start taking aspirin.
- Adults 60 years and older should not start taking acetylsalicylic acid to prevent heart disease and stroke.
- Adults who are already taking acetylsalicylic acid for a previous heart attack or stroke should continue to do so unless otherwise instructed by their doctor.
Talk to your doctor if you have any questions about taking aspirin.
Check out last month’s edition of Live Well Work Well – January 2022.
All of us here at CoverLink wish you continued health and safety this year!