5 Things You Should Know About Your Heart

By Ernst Lamothe Jr

Thomas Grady is a board-certified cardiologist with Oswego Health.

The heart remains a remarkable organ at the center of our bodies that provides life and vitality.

The biological marvel is responsible for pumping blood and oxygen through our bodies. Ensuring heart health can be paramount to overall well-being even with healthy individuals.

That was the case recently when Los Angeles Lakers superstar Lebron James’ son, Bronny, suffered a cardiac incident. While details of the situation remain private, it shows the importance of having your heart health checked, recognizing family history and taking care of yourself.

One person dies every 33 seconds from cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The heart is the main organ that provides blood flow to your organs and muscles. It’s essential that you take care of it because you can have a deteriorated quality of life with poor heart health,” said Thomas Grady, a board-certified cardiology specialist in Oswego Health.

Grady discussed five essential things to know about cardiac health.

1 —  Fitness and diet

Often called the engine of the body, a healthy heart ensures the efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all cells, tissues and organs and maintains their proper function. A robust cardiovascular system contributes to increased energy levels, a stronger immune system and an overall enhanced quality of life. On the other hand, neglecting heart health can lead to a host of serious conditions including heart disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Strong heart health starts with movement. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles and improve your ability to do everyday activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“You need to establish an exercise program in your life,” said Grady. “You should prioritize frequency over intensity. Even a 30-minute walk every day or five days a week can do wonders. Exercises such as swimming, jogging, the elliptical machine or StairMaster can be effective ways for consistent movement that benefits the heart.”

In addition, he suggests eating lean meats, fruits and vegetables. He believes in the adage of what you eat and how you eat will determine your future heart issues.

“It’s important to emphasize the types of foods that we eat that we already know are good for you. We also need to focus on habits because you have people who are grazers who eat throughout the day constantly which doesn’t give your body enough time to digest anything,” said Grady. “Then you have people who tend to eat late at night and that habit can contribute to overweight and bad routines.”

2 —  Myths

Several heart-healthy myths continue to permeate society. Anything from the idea that women don’t really suffer from heart attacks to heart ailments only being an older person’s disease are often perceived as fact.

“One of the myths is doing something bad — whether it is in diet or lifestyle — a few times won’t really cause damage. The problem with that philosophy is that people rarely do the wrong thing once,” said Grady.

Another myth he sees is people not connecting peace of mind to heart health.

“I tell people you need to meditate or pray because being at peace is a good thing for your overall being. When you are stressed, it affects many organs in your body, especially your heart. Your exterior life can affect your interior body and we too often don’t recognize the connection,” Grady said.

3 —  Lebron’s son

Prioritizing heart health is a fundamental aspect of maintaining overall well-being. Understanding the symptoms and addressing the factors that contribute to cardiac issues continues to be an essential step toward a healthier heart. When James’ son, Bronny, had a cardiac arrest, it shocked the sports world and the casual observer.

“It is not uncommon for sudden cardiac incidents or death to occur in young athletic men. Sometimes you never know they had a heart problem until the incident occurs. They were able to get to him quickly to resuscitate his heart,” said Grady. “There are many examples of athletes who died because there was an unknown heart issue.”

4 — Bad behavior

Recognizing the early signs of potential heart problems is crucial for prompt diagnosis and effective treatment. Common symptoms include chest discomfort, which manifest as a sensation of pressure, squeezing or pain in the chest. In addition, shortness of breath during mild physical activity or while at rest could be indicative of heart problems.

“Smoking destroys the elasticity of your heart. People often talk about the effects that it can have on your lungs, but it can be detrimental to other areas of your body because nicotine can restrict the blood vessels and flow. When any kind of restriction occurs, plaque can form,” said Grady.

5 —  Good choices early on

Grady said because it is very difficult to turn back the clock on a weakened heart, people should look to make good choices early on so they become routine.

“While it is never too late to establish healthy habits, I encourage parents to focus on their child’s health early on in elementary school. That is where you plant the seed of nutrition, emotion, personality, determination and habits,” said Grady.

Whether you’re a parent looking to instill healthy values in your children or an individual seeking personal transformation, there are various avenues to explore.

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By taking this step, you can become a catalyst for change in your community, helping others make informed decisions about their nutrition and overall health. Together, we can inspire healthier generations, fostering habits that promote physical and emotional well-being, determination, and the foundations of a healthier, happier life. So, whether you’re starting early or seeking a fresh beginning, remember that change is possible, and online nutrition certification can be a vital resource on your path to personal and community transformation.