Raising Awareness About Heart Health

February 08, 2022

February is forever tied to Valentine’s Day. That means flowers, candy, romance, and hearts! Lots of hearts.

It only makes sense that February has become American Heart Month. The first Friday in February, everyone is encouraged to wear red to help raise awareness about heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among men and women in the U.S. It is also the most preventable.

Knowing your family’s health history, making heart-healthy diet and exercise choices, and having regular checkups can help protect your heart.

Checkup Heart

What Is Heart Disease?

Heart disease might make you think of heart attacks. But a heart attack is just a symptom of heart disease. Heart disease includes several conditions. The most common in the U.S. is coronary artery disease. It affects the flow of blood to the heart. Others include:

  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Defects you’re born with
  • Heart valve disease
  • Heart muscle disease
  • Heart infection

Conversation Heart Patients

It Affects Everyone

More than 650,000 people die each year from heart disease. That’s nearly one-fourth of all deaths in the U.S. More non-Hispanic white men die of heart disease than any other group (24.9%) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Next are non-Hispanic Black men at 23.9%, followed by men who are Asian American or Pacific Islanders at 22.9%.

People Travel on Bike

Risk Factors

Family history of heart disease is one of the biggest indicators of potential heart problems. A relatively common disorder that affects one out of every 500 people is called hypercholesterolemia. It causes high levels of “bad” cholesterol, but it can be controlled.

Other factors include

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

Eating a low-fat diet filled with fruits and vegetables will go a long way to not only preventing heart disease. It will also help with obesity and diabetes. The same goes for regular exercise. You don’t need to be an elite athlete. You just need to move for about 30 minutes a day. It works your heart and helps to lower your blood pressure. Quitting smoking — including vapes — is probably the best thing you can do for your heart.

Jump Start a Healthy Heart

There is so much you can do to take care of your heart that it may be a little overwhelming. AltaMed is here to help get you on a path to healthful living and help keep you there.

Our Healthy Heart Program encourages participants to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Each week, we’ll focus on topics likes stress management, exercise, nutrition, and medication compliance. The program maintains a positive, support group-type environment. Participants work together and motivate each other to succeed.

It is recommended for people who want to achieve healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Call (323) 558-7606 to enroll

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The Nine Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Heart Healthy

February 01, 2019

You probably already know Valentine’s Day is coming up, but did you know February is Heart Health Month? So, instead of candy, we’re giving you these bite-sized tips to help you show your heart some love.

1. Heart Disease Runs in Families
AltaMed Latino family in group shot smiling

To some degree, heart disease is thought to be ‘hereditary’ or ‘genetic:’ that is, it can be passed from one generation to another through the genes. However, having the genes for it doesn’t mean you are absolutely certain to develop heart disease: it just means you’re more at risk.

2. But There’s a Lot You Can Do to Prevent It
AltaMed middle age Hispanic man running on treadmill

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that about 80% of all heart disease deaths could have been prevented by following steps like eating a healthy diet, exercising, quitting smoking, and having regular health screenings.

3. All Fats Aren’t Created Equal
AltaMed half avocado on wooden table

Most of us have been trained to believe that all fats are bad. However, some sources of fat are actually good for you and may reduce your risk for heart disease.

  • Unsaturated fats are the good kind of fat, and they’re found in foods like avocados, nuts like almonds and walnuts, olive and canola oils, fish, and more. Enjoy in moderation.
  • Then there are saturated fats (found in whole milk products, red meat, skin-on chicken, among others) which should be limited to occasional eating; and trans fats, which should be avoided when possible as they increase both your cholesterol level and heart disease risk. They’re found in processed foods like fries, cakes and cookies, microwave popcorn, and frozen pizza.

4.& Your Belly Could Tell You Your Risk
AltaMed chubby man sitting on couch with burger fries and beer

If you have a lot of fat around your middle or belly, compared to your hips, you may be more likely to have heart disease (think being apple-shaped rather than pear-shaped.) One recent study found that women who carried their fat around their middles were twice as likely to have heart problems, including heart attacks. Fortunately, losing even a little weight can make a difference for your heart.

5. Petting Puppies is Good for You
AltaMed golden retriever dog smiling and getting pet by owner

Science can’t say for sure that stress causes heart disease, but stress leads to the factors that can put you at risk for heart disease or make your health worse (such as high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers, to name a few). Whatever you can do to manage your stress is good, and doctors agree that having a pet, and even just stroking an animal, can help. In fact, one study showed that dog owners who’d had heart attacks or heart problems had better health outcomes than those who didn’t have pets.

6. There’s a Connection Between Your Teeth and Your Heart Health
AltaMed woman smiling putting toothpaste on yellow toothbrush

A good oral hygiene routine is important for your overall health and well-being, not to mention your confidence. Not brushing and flossing can lead to bacteria, inflammation, and plaque, which has been linked to heart attacks.

7. The Warning Signs of a Heart Attack.
AltaMed man grabbing heart like he is having chest pains

Heart attack symptoms can vary from person to person, but the signs usually include:

  • Pressure, tightness, pain, or a squeezing or aching sensation in your chest or arms
  • Nausea, indigestion, heartburn, or abdominal pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat
  • Fatigue
  • Sudden lightheadedness or dizziness

8. One Heart Attack Leads to Another
AltaMed person in hospital bed

Those who’ve had heart attacks are four times more likely to suffer a fatal cardiac event, compared to those who haven’t.

9. You Can Get Your Numbers Checked at No Cost
AltaMed two female doctors and one male doctor

Getting your blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol numbers checked are all considered essential health benefits and therefore, your medical plan will cover a trip to the doctor at no charge to you.

Healthy Dental Habits Keep Diabetes and Heart Disease at Bay

October 02, 2020

Your mouth is literally the gateway to the rest of your body. It is the fueling port where we consume our food, beverages, and most medications. The digestive and respiratory tracts are accessed through the mouth.

Too often, our thoughts about the role our mouth plays in our overall health end with what we eat and drink. But practicing proper dental hygiene — brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental checkups — helps us maintain our overall health. Diabetes, heart disease, pneumonia, and birth complications are some of the conditions associated with poor dental health.

It Starts with Bacteria

Section 1We introduce foreign objects into our bodies whenever we eat or drink. We chew, swallow, and move things along into our digestive system where bacteria in our gut break down the food to get the nutrients our bodies need.

Bacteria lives and thrives in dark, warm, moist places – like our mouths. If we don’t brush or floss regularly, that bacteria will grow unchecked fueled by the remnants of what we eat and drink.

When bacteria build up on our teeth, our gums become prone to infection, and they swell because our immune system is fighting that infection. Left uncontrolled, the chemicals that result from the infection slowly dissolve the gums and bones holding our teeth into place. That is gum disease, also known as periodontitis.

Poor Oral Health Leads to Health Problems

Section 2Gum disease and tooth decay can be the source of intense pain and require expensive dental procedures. But sometimes that’s just the beginning. Over the last decade, research has found connections between oral health and a variety of serious diseases and conditions.

  • Heart disease — Oral bacteria, left to grow, can move their way into your bloodstream and infect the inner lining of your heart valves. These bacteria can also infect arteries, causing them to swell and clog, potentially leading to heart attacks or strokes.
  • Pneumonia — This is just one of the respiratory diseases that can be caused by bacteria from your mouth getting pulled into your lungs.
  • Birth complications — Low birth weight and premature birth have been linked to periodontitis. An infection in the mouth has been shown to hinder development of the fetus.

Health Conditions Contributing to Oral Problems

section 3Just as poor dental hygiene can lead to health problems, certain diseases and conditions can contribute to oral problems.

  • Diabetes — People with diabetes are more likely to have gum disease, while people with gum disease can develop diabetes. Inflammation in the mouth seems to lower the body’s ability to control blood sugar, which is a problem for people with diabetes. The high blood sugar that can come with diabetes makes it harder for the body to fight infections — including gum infections. Studies have also shown good oral health can improve diabetes control.
  • Osteoporosis — The disease weakens the bones making periodontal bone and tooth loss more likely.
  • Obesity — Studies have shown periodontitis can progress more quickly in people with higher body fat.

Brush Up on Your Dental Routine Basics

Section 4Taking just a few minutes each day to properly care for your teeth can pay big rewards by improving your overall health. Good dental hygiene includes:

  • Brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing daily
  • Using mouthwash to remove bits brushing and flossing may miss
  • Eating a healthful diet and limiting foods with added sugar
  • Replacing your toothbrush at least every three months
  • Avoiding tobacco use – that includes vaping, which may be just as bad for your teeth as eating a candy bar, drinking a soda, and not brushing.
  • Scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings

Regular cleanings and checkups help you stay on top of any developing situations. Also, few things make you feel as put together as bright, shining, professionally cleaned teeth.

We Can Help

Section 5AltaMed Dental Services has highly skilled dentists and hygienists to help you maintain your healthy smile or get you back on the path to dental health. Call (888) 499-9303 to make an appointment or get more information online.