February is American Heart Month, which makes it the best time to show some love to our heart health.
Since 1964, American Heart Month has been a month-long initiative when medical professionals, policymakers, and health advocates push for actionable awareness around heart disease and the significance of heart health in the U.S. The Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention is centering this year's theme around hypertension, or high blood pressure, and its connection to cardiovascular disease.
As the leading cause of death among racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., prioritizing heart health is critical for the nation's well-being. At Omnitracs, we cater to a wide variety of working professionals, from truckers to fleet executives. So, this year, we're sharing five statistics and five heart-healthy tips that everyone — whether in a cab or sitting in an office — can find beneficial.
Five heart-centric statistics
#1: One in every four deaths in the U.S. is attributed to heart disease.
To put in even more shocking terms, that's one person in every standard-sized family.
#2: More than half of all truckers smoke.
Driving a commercial vehicle is a tough job that leaves many searching for ways to reduce stress, but smoking significantly increases the risk of heart disease.
#3: Employees who experience workplace bullying are 59% more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease or experience heart attacks.
For comprehensive results, researchers surveyed nearly 80,000 working men and women without histories of heart disease.
#4: Women are just as likely as men to have heart attacks, and they are more at risk of dying from them.
Unfortunately, women are more likely to be misdiagnosed by doctors. They also experience seemingly less-threatening symptoms, such as shortness of breath or nausea.
#5: You can reduce your risk of heart disease by over 80%.
Fortunately, heart disease is highly preventable if you improve your health — which brings us to our next section.
Five tips for heart health
#1: Eat healthy, move more, all the stuff you've heard before
Luckily, making healthy eating and exercise changes in your life doesn't have to be some boot-camp, grapefruit-diet mashup. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are plenty of small, heart-healthy modifications you can make to your daily diet that can produce ample positive results. Consider swapping saturated fats, like butter and creams, with monounsaturated fats, like olive oil and avocados, for lower blood pressure levels. You can also reduce your sodium intake and eat more fiber and whole grains.
On the exercise front, Johns Hopkins Medicine recommends aerobic exercise and resistance training for optimal heart health. With regular exercise, you can lower bad cholesterol and improve blood circulation.
#2: If you're a workplace leader, develop a healthy work environment for your employees
As mentioned, workplaces can play a critical role in heart health. It's no surprise, too. Most of us spend the majority of our days in our workspaces. While a toxic person or environment is not fun for anyone to be around for even a few moments, being immersed in negativity is far more damaging.
Workplace leaders can significantly influence employee health and wellness by establishing a code of conduct with acceptable and unacceptable behaviors, ensuring a safe space for communication, and advocating for work-life balance.
#3: Replace smoking with another stress reducer
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking is right up there with high blood pressure and bad cholesterol in heart disease risk factors.
While quitting smoking is not easy — especially for seasoned smokers — replacing the habit with another stress-relieving day-to-day practice, like mindful meditation, could make it somewhat easier.
We all love sleep, and our bodies do, too.
Studies have shown that insufficient or disrupted sleep can negatively affect our blood pressure and heart health. Better, uninterrupted sleep helps our bodies recharge and positively contributes to nearly all aspects of our physical health. Adults aged 18-64 should aim for between seven to nine hours of sleep every night, as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
#5: Some gratitude a day keeps the doctor away
Harvard Health recommends taking a moment a day to express gratitude for the positives in your life to combat the risk of heart disease. Negative emotions, like anger, contribute to health issues. Unsurprisingly, positive emotions are linked to greater well-being and better health.
You can find some additional helpful resources from the CDC here. If you’re an over-the-road or last-mile driver, you can keep your heart healthy on the road with these 12 tips from last year's American Heart Month blog post.