Know Your Heart

Few months bring matters of the heart to the forefront quite like February.  With Valentine’s day just behind us and Heart Awareness Month in full swing, what better time to present you with some amazing facts you might not know about your heart.

  • By the numbers: A normal heart beats anywhere from 50 to 99 times in one minute and on average, 100,000 times per day.  Daily, it is responsible for moving 2,000 gallons of blood through 60,000 miles of vessels.  That’s long enough to circle the world more than twice.
  • How it works: Blood vessels are made up of arteries, capillaries, and veins. Each have a different function. Arteries pump oxygen-rich blood away from the heart and into other tissues in the body, while veins carry blood back from the tissues to the heart. These veins carry blood that is lower in oxygen and contain waste products that are later excreted from the body.  Capillaries are smaller vessels that connect arteries to veins.
  • Play it Safe: Emotions, exercise and some medications can affect the rate of your heartbeat. Any damage to the heart or valves can decrease the power of your heart and force it to work harder.  Staying active, not smoking, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol and eating healthy are all ways to prevent heart disease.
  • The Gender Difference: Heart attack symptoms vary between men and women. When a male, whose heart weighs on average 10 pounds, suffers a heart attack, he will probably experience the hallmark chest pain.  Women, whose hearts weigh about 2 pounds less, are more likely to experience nausea, indigestion and shoulder aches.
  • The Best Medicine: Health professionals have finally proven the benefits of laughter on the heart.  According to their studies, laughing can increase blood flow by 20 percent, making it the perfect stress-reliever. While laughing, your blood vessel lining relaxes, allowing freer blood flow.
  • A Case of the Mondays: Studies have also shown that the most common times people have heart attacks is on Monday mornings.  In the morning, stress hormones are highest and can cause cholesterol buildup in the arteries to rupture, blocking blood flow in the heart. This, along with the stress of going back to the office on Monday, creates the perfect environment for a stress-induced heart attack. Practices like yoga and meditation are great ways to reduce heightened stress levels.
  • Stay Active: Did you know an active sex life can reduce the risk of heart disease by 50 percent? This stress-relieving, calorie-burning act has great benefits to overall health and wellness.  Some researchers even believe that difficulty having sex could be an early indicator of heart disease.  Evidence suggests erectile dysfunction could warn men of impending heart disease up to 5 years in advance.



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