Keeping Your Heart Healthy

Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life. To do that, it’s important to do the things that make youless likely to develop diseases and to know how to get better if you get sick. Keeping your heart healthyis one of the most important ways to make sure you are feeling your very best. As a young person, if you
start doing small things every day that keep your body healthy, you have a better chance of living a longer,happier and healthier life.
This blogg will explain how you can live a heart-healthy life. Keeping your heart healthy will also make you less likely to develop many other types of diseases, like cancer and type 2 diabetes. All of therecommendations in this guide have some important things in common: any person can follow them, thesteps are not difficult or expensive to take, and even adding small parts of these recommendations intoyour life can go a long way toward helping you feel your very best.

Making Small Choices Every Day Will Help Keep Your Heart Healthy

You make many choices each day, like what color socks you want to wear or how you wear your hair.Through making choices, you can increase your self-esteem and be more confident and comfortable with who you are. When it comes to making decisions that keep yourself healthy, it may seem difficult to choose better options when so many things seem easier or just more fun. You just need to takesmall steps in a healthy direction and that begins by knowing the healthy choices! Once you have thatknowledge, it becomes easier to make choices every day that help keep you healthy.

How Do I Know if My Heart is Healthy?

Figuring out whether your heart is healthy begins with knowing where you stand in relation to seven simple aspects of heart health. The American Heart Association calls these things Life’s Simple 7.

They are:

  1. Avoid smoking and usingtobacco products
  2. Be physically active every day
  3. Eat a heart-healthy diet
  4. Keep a healthy weight
  5. Keep your bloodpressure healthy
  6. Keep your totalcholesterol healthy
  7. Keep your bloodsugar healthy

The information in this blog will help you understand these seven components of heart healthy and let you know how you can keep them in healthy ranges. To make this process fun and exciting, the AmericanHeart Association has created a website called “My Life Check” (MyLifeCheck.org) that will help you understand all aspects of your heart health and give you and your family ideas to make the best choices.This blog describes things you can do on your own to keep your heart healthy and some things that may require the help of a health professional.

But, first, let’s talk about your heart.

How the Heart Works

Did you know your heart is a muscle? It is! It’s about the size of your fist and it sits in the middle of yourchest slightly tilted to the left. The one difference between your heart and other muscles is that it nevergets to rest. When the heart pumps (or beats), it pushes blood through the body to pick up waste and deliver oxygen. This process is called circulation.

The heart is made up of four rooms or chambers. The two right chambers receive blood from all over thebody and pump that blood to the lungs where it picks up oxygen and drops off waste from organs andother cells. Once oxygen-rich blood leaves the lungs, it goes to the chambers on the left side of the heartwhere it is pumped back out to body.
Each side of the heart has two chambers, one on top and one on the bottom. The chambers on the topare called the atria (or atrium, singular). The chambers on the bottom are called ventricles. The atriareceive the blood from the body (right atria) or the lungs (left atria). The atria then pass the blood down tothe ventricles, which push it out to the lungs (right ventricle) or the body (left vetricle). At the exact sametime that the ventricles are pumping blood out to the body, the atria are refilling, getting ready for the nextpump. Your heart never takes a break!
Blood always moves forward through the heart because it has four special doors called valves that opento let blood flow into each chamber. These valves are very special because after blood passes throughthey close to prevent the blood flow from going backward.
Blood exits the heart through the largest blood vessel in the body, which is called the aorta. Blood passesthrough the aorta and is delivered all over the body through an elaborate network of tubes called bloodvessels. There are three types of blood vessels: arteries, veins and capillaries.
• Arteries carry blood from the left ventricle away from the heart and deliver oxygen and nutrients tothe body. Arteries are red because when blood is carrying a lot of oxygen it turns red. The heart alsopumps blood to itself because the heart itself uses a lot of oxygen and nutrients.
• Veins carry blood back to the right atria from the body. Blood returning to the heart in veins carriescarbon dioxide and other wastes from the body. Veins are blue because blood that is not carrying alot of oxygen appears blue.
• Capillaries connect arteries and veins. They are the smallest blood vessels in the body. Capillarieshave very thin walls with tiny holes (called pores) that allow oxygen and other nutrients to diffuse outof blood and into cells to feed the body. At the same time, carbon dioxide and other wastes transferinto the blood to be carried back to the lungs to be exhaled. The appearance of blood turns from redto blue at the capillaries because this is the place where the oxygen being carried from the lungs isremoved from the blood.

Living a Life Free From Cardiovascular Disease
Needs to Begin in Childhood

Developing cardiovascular disease begins in childhood!Some people are born with it — Congenital heart defects
Congenital heart defects are a form of cardiovascular disease that is present at birth. Each year, about
32,000 babies are expected to be born with a heart defect.

Many children born with heart defects are living longer, healthier lives because of new treatments that werenot available even 10 years ago.

Most people develop risk — Alarming trends

Although some children are born with heart problems, many others who are born healthy can developcardiovascular disease because they have poor lifestyle habits when they are young and as they get older. If
you make unhealthy food choices, use tobacco or smoke and don’t get enough exercise every day, there’s agreater chance that you will develop CVD.

FACTS:

• Children who have CVD risk factors at age 13 or younger can develop heart disease as young adults.

• Children who have CVD risk factors in their early teens may have hardened arteries that look like thearteries of adults many years older.

Following Life’s Simple 7 can help you live a life free of CVD!
Making small changes in your life can add up to a big difference in your cardiovascular health, evenfor children and teenagers! If you’re born with a heart problem, these seven steps can help you live ahealthier life, too.

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