(As published in The Local on February 10, 2011)
February is Heart Month, observed by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and every year we hear about the striking statistics affecting many Canadians: heart disease and stroke are two of the three leading causes of death; 1 in 5 people are affected; and 9 in 10 have at lease one risk factor. This information is important to know, not to inflict fear or guilt, but to educate and empower for change - cardiovascular disease is both preventable and manageable.
The heart is an extraordinary organ that pumps blood containing vital nutrients throughout the entire body. It is responsible for nourishing every organ and cell in our body and it is essential we treat it well. Of primary importance is reducing the various risk factors for cardiovascular disease: high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, smoking, poor diet, and prolonged stress. Strategies include regular exercise, a whole foods diet, maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and nutritional/herbal supplementation.
It is now understood that emotional as well as physical factors are involved in creating and maintaining heart health. A figurative broken heart can have literal meaning for those affected by trauma and grief. With this in mind, it is imperative that the mental/emotional capacity is nurtured when treating cardiovascular disease. This can be achieved through regular stress reduction techniques, various forms of counselling, homeopathy, acupuncture, and activities that bring you joy and fulfill your passion.
With Valentines Day around the corner, I invite you to listen to your heart and treat it well.