FORT WAYNE — This year, Americans will spend approximately $2 billion on candy gifts for the special valentines in their lives. That’s good news for the chocolate industry, but it’s a whole lot of sugar. If you’re looking for a non-traditional valentine gift for someone you love, consider giving the gift of a healthier heart.
Every year, heart disease claims the lives of a half million men and women in the United States alone – husbands and wives, moms and dads, with loved ones left behind wondering if the loss could have been prevented. Often, they are right.
While we’ve made much progress in diagnosing, preventing and treating heart disease over the past three decades, it is still by far the leading cause of death – responsible for more deaths than all forms of cancer combined. While women and men share equal risk when it comes to developing heart disease, their symptoms may be significantly different. With millions of adult men and women living with or at risk for heart disease, here are a few ideas to help protect your heart – and the hearts of those you love:
- Evaluate and address metabolic syndrome. This is a group of health risks — large waist size, elevated blood pressure, glucose intolerance, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides — that dramatically increases your chance of developing heart disease. But metabolic syndrome is reversible, and your doctor can help you determine your ideal numbers. Valentine’s Day gift ideas: tandem bike; healthy cooking classes; beginners’ yoga DVD.
- Address diabetes head-on. Diabetes increases the risk of heart disease in women even more than it does in men. Although women usually develop heart disease about 10 years later than men, diabetes erases that advantage. Type II diabetes is highly treatable, and in some cases, even reversible. Work with your doctor to prevent or manage the condition and add years to your life. Valentine’s Day gift ideas: fresh strawberries; gift cards for smoothies; personal blood glucose monitor. Read more about the connection between diabetes and heart disease here.
- Stop smoking. Smoking remains one of the greatest independent risks for heart attack and stroke in both sexes, but women who smoke are twice as likely to have a heart attack as male smokers. Valentine’s Day gift ideas: quit smoking together; ask your doctor for an appropriate stop smoking aid if either of you struggle to quit. Learn more about the benefits of quitting smoking here.
- Get moving. We’ve all heard it – “sitting is the new smoking.” Even if you work out for one hour a few days each week, sitting more than six hours a day increases your risk of heart disease almost as much as smoking. Valentine’s Day gift ideas: standing work desk; mini stair stepper; activity band or pedometer; high quality running shoes. Here is some information about exercise and how it benefits heart health.
- Relax together. The dangers of chronic stress, overwork and sleep deprivation cannot be overestimated in terms of their impact on your heart health. Americans’ lives are notoriously busy and stress-filled, so use Valentine’s Day to focus on happiness and relaxation. Valentine’s Day gift ideas: weekend staycation; local meditation or yoga classes that you can do virtually. Here are some restorative yoga poses you can try at home.
- Get peace of mind. If you have risk factors, symptoms or a family history of heart disease, invest in appropriate diagnostic testing to ensure your risk is managed. Work with your doctor to determine which testing is best for you. Valentine’s Day gift ideas: schedule a visit with your primary care provider and make your loved one a heart healthy meal.
If you need assistance finding a provider to help you diagnose or manage heart disease, call Lutheran Health Physicians at (833)-546-4968 or go online.