Every year in the U.S., about 600,000 people die from heart disease. That is just about one out of every four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). February is Heart Health Month. Heart disease is a serious problem in this country that can’t be learned about later; we need to learn all we can about it now to prevent tragedy from striking in the future. Don’t put it off until it’s too late.
According to the American Heart Association, heart disease does not just affect middle-aged people; heart disease starts from a young age. The sooner you take into account your lifestyle and start integrating healthy habits, the lower your risk of heart disease as you age.
Causes of Heart Disease
There are many causes of heart disease, but they generally fall into one of two categories: unchangeable and correctable.
Too much alcohol
We all know that being out of shape, not eating right, and abusing substances like alcohol and tobacco are anything but good for you, and we all know how to correct these problems. Exercise, eat right, quit smoking and drink less.
Putting in just fifteen minutes a day of basic exercise can make all the difference in the world. Just take a quick walk around your neighborhood. For those who hate the idea of going outdoors in the sultry South Floridian summer months, you can exercise right at home. Sweep your floors, vacuum, mop, clean your bathtub or shower. All these will get your heart pumping and get some chores out of the way; two-for-one.
Eating right doesn’t mean giving up every bit of good food in your life; it just means using moderation. Controlling portion sizes is a huge and easy step in the right direction. Some harder, but very important diet changes are as follows. Eat more fruits and vegetables, not drenched in sugary syrups or in creamy cheese sauces; those don’t count as fruits or vegetables. Choose whole grains when you can. Cut back on unhealthy fats and cholesterol. Reduce sodium in your diet; sodium can be very harmful to your cardiovascular system, especially as you get older.
That last correctable issue on the list — stress — may take you for a bit of a spin. “Stress can’t be helped,” you say, “I have a house, bills, kids, work, church, pets and a million other things that are out of my control!” While that’s true, the belief that we have no control over our feelings of stress is not true at all.
According to the University of Iowa, stress can really affect cardiovascular health and can cause angina — chest pain — and even heart attack. It is extremely important, for this reason, to learn how to manage stress the right way.
When we’re stressed out and don’t know what to do, many of us will go online and search for ways of dealing with stress. When you search Google for “deal with stress,” the results are numerous. Techniques include avoiding nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol; indulging in physical activity; sleeping more; keeping a diary; talking with someone; yoga; even self-hypnosis is on the list!
The world offers us myriad options for dealing with stress, all of them moderately good options. Conspicuously absent, however, is the best option for stress relief.
The best stress relief
As Christians, we do not need to worry about everything going on in our lives — no matter how many or how serious. Philippians 4:6-7 is plain when it tells us, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Notice in verse six, Paul says not to worry about anything. Keep in mind, he’s writing from a Roman prison with death hanging over him every day. “Worry” is a word that should not be in our vocabulary.
Matthew 6:25-34 is a great portion of scripture for those dealing with stress and anxiety. It tells us that if God takes care of the small details in the world — like what birds eat — we can rest assured that he will not abandon us and will give us what we need.
For more information on heart health, visit The American Heart Association at www.heart.org. Heart health is a serious matter that needs to be addressed in each of our lives. Make sure you’re doing everything you can for your health including putting your faith in your creator and savior.
Tami Fernandez is a freelance writer for the Good News and helps serve the youth at Gladeview Baptist Church. She can be contacted at [email protected].