February is National Heart Health Month and a reminder of the importance of taking care of our tickers. Heart disease can affect both men and women, young and old. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, heart disease is the leading cause of death between both genders. Make a promise to yourself this month to live a longer, healthier life.
Fun Facts About the Heart
- The first heart cell we develop in the womb starts beating as early as four weeks after conception.
- On average, the heart beats about 100,000 times each day.
- A heart can beat even when separated from the body because it has its own independent electric impulses.
- For the average person, your heart will pump over 1.5 million barrels of blood over your lifespan.
- Although the common belief that your heart is on the left side of your chest, it is actually centered between the lungs.
- Your left lung is slightly smaller than the right to make room for your heart.
- In a single day, your blood travels through the body for a total distance of 12,000 miles.
- The beating sound we hear is the valves of the heart opening and closing.
- The right side of the heart is responsible for pumping blood directly to the lungs while the left side of the heart pumps blood back into the rest of your body.
- Heart cancer is extremely rare because heart cells often stop dividing early in your lifetime.
- The heart pumps blood to more than 75 trillion cells located within the body.
- The only place that blood does not circulate is the corneas.
- A woman’s heart beats naturally faster than a man’s heart. Women average 78 beats per minute while men average 70 beats per minute.
Staying Healthy Tips
Now that we know just how much the heart does for our body, our goal should be to take active strides to keep it healthy. The following steps are natural ways to keep your heartbeat going strong.
Physical activity is a must to prevent heart disease. This doesn’t mean you have to start a boot camp workout or train for a triathlon, but being active will greatly reduce your chance of heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate cardiovascular exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous cardiovascular exercise. Exercise sessions can be broken down into easy 30-minute sessions.
Happiness can actually lower your risk of heart disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, happiness and a solid sense of emotional vitality has a direct effect on heart disease risk. Keep stress at a minimum for optimal heart health.
Know your family history of heart disease. If heart disease runs in your family, let your doctor know in order to take preventative screening measures.
Monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure on a regular basis. High blood pressure and high levels of blood cholesterol put you at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Follow a heart-healthy diet. Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains should make up the majority of your daily calorie intake. Limit unhealthy fats and reduce how much sodium you consume.