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Taking Care of Your Health Through the Holidays

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Taking Care of Your Health Through the Holidays

Ways to Show Your Body Some Gratitude

This time of year brings about feelings of thankfulness and gratitude for things we may typically take for granted—such as our health. The experts and Parrish Healthcare outline some simple ways to look after your body during the holiday season and beyond.

Stay Active to Support Your Heart Health

Leading an active lifestyle is one of the best ways to support various areas of your health — especially your heart! Getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week can have the following benefits for your heart health:

  • Lowered risk of heart disease
  • Decreased risk of heart attack
  • Regulate blood pressure levels
  • Help you to maintain a healthy weight

Some aerobic activities you can add to your routine to get your heart rate up this fall include:

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Bike riding
  • Running or jogging
  • Indoor swimming
  • Jumping rope
  • Yard work and gardening
  • Doing household chores

Look After Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance that can be found in all of the cells throughout your body. Your body uses this substance to make hormones, vitamin D, and other substances that aid in digestion. When too much cholesterol is circulating throughout your body, you are at an increased risk of developing a host of health conditions.

Although your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, you continue to bring cholesterol into your body through the foods you eat. This makes it essential that you understand the types of cholesterol, as well as what foods contain each.

Decrease Your LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

LDL is often referred to as the "bad" cholesterol because it contributes to the fatty buildup, leading to atherosclerosis. This condition causes the thickening of your blood vessels' walls, putting you at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease.

Foods that are high in LDL that you should limit include:

  • Red meats
  • Cured meats
  • Fried foods
  • Butter
  • Sugary sodas and juices
  • Desserts

Increase Your HDL (Good) Cholesterol

HDL is referred to as the “good” cholesterol. HDL helps to carry LDL out of the arteries and to the liver, where it can be broken down and removed from the body. However, it is important to note that HDL cannot completely eliminate LDL from the body.

Foods that are rich in HDL include:

  • Apples
  • Fatty fish like tuna and salmon
  • Avocado
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts
  • Grapes
  • Leafy greens like kale and cabbage

Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition affecting more than 34 million Americans. About 88 million American adults are pre-diabetic, which means they have higher than normal blood sugar levels and are close to developing type 2 diabetes.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can keep your blood sugar levels under control to delay and even prevent the development of this chronic health condition.

While your doctor may have more specific instructions to meet your specific health care needs, the following tip can help you to reduce your blood sugar levels:

  • Aim to get 150 minutes of exercise each week
  • Cut back on sodas, juices, and other sugary drinks
  • Manage your stress levels
  • Get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Quit Smoking

It’s no mystery that smoking and using tobacco products can put you at an increased risk of developing various types of cancer and other chronic health conditions.

When you nip your smoking habits in the bud, you’re able to reduce your risk for the following health issues and many others:

  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Blood clots
  • Lung disease
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fertility issues
  • Hormonal imbalances

Quitting smoking doesn’t only help to improve your health, but others around you too. This is because secondhand smoke exposes others to various chemicals that can negatively impact their health.

Secondhand smoke actually increases the risk of:

  • Lung cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Damage to the blood vessels
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Know the Warning Signs of a Holiday Heart Attack

Although the holiday season is meant to be a time full of togetherness and cheer, research has shown that there is an increase in heart attacks during this time of year. While you may do your best to lead a healthy lifestyle, you can't always prevent heart attacks or sudden cardiac arrest. However, you can stay vigilant by identifying the signs and knowing what to do if you or a loved one experienced cardiac distress.

Signs and Symptoms of Heart Attack

A heart attack happens when the blood flow leading to the heart is suddenly blocked. Heart attacks are typically considered a “circulation” problem.

The following signs may suggest that someone is experiencing a heart attack: 

  • Chest pain
  • Feeling light-headed or faint
  • Pain in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Pain or discomfort in the arm or shoulder
  • Shortness of breath

Signs and Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

When someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest, there is a malfunction within the heart, causing it to stop beating suddenly. Unlike heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest is considered an "electrical" problem. Although it is common to believe that sudden cardiac arrest is symptomless, some people may experience the following:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting

What to Do if You Suspect Either

It is very important that you dial 911 immediately if you suspect that someone is going into cardiac arrest or having a heart attack. Until emergency medical services arrive on the scene, it is essential that you perform CPR. Follow these steps outlined by the American Red Cross, which can also be seen in this video.

Primary Care in Titusville

When it comes to supporting your health, it is important to find a family care doctor you can trust. The family doctors at Parrish Medical Group Family Medicine treat patients throughout all stages of your life, providing you with the insight, resources, and preventative care you need to live happily and healthily.

Whether you’re in need of a regular check-up or you have a health concern, contact Parrish Medical Group Family Medicine at 321-268-6111 to schedule your next visit.