When it comes to heart health, there’s always something more to learn, especially here in Tennessee. According to the BlueCross BlueShield Health Index, more than half of our top 10 health challenges are related to heart health, from heart disease to high cholesterol.
But learning about your heart doesn’t have to be all facts and figures. Here are 5 things you may not know about heart health.
1. Heart attacks feel different to women
During cardiac arrest, chest pain is less frequent in women than men, and 10-15% of women don’t have intense chest pain at all. Women are also more likely to:
- Attribute the symptoms of a heart attack to something less serious (the flu, stress)
- Put off seeking help to accommodate others, and to
- Have symptoms while resting, sleeping, or in response to mental stress instead of physical exertion.
To learn how women can identify heart attack more effectively, click here.
2. Your personality can affect your heart health
Type A people tend to be driven and hardworking. That can lead to success, but also to stress and isolation, which puts them at higher risk of heart disease. Type B people, on the other hand, tend to be laid back and better at coping with stress and anxiety. That can lead to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, which improves heart health. In fact, the terms “Type A” and “Type B” actually come from a 1950s study in which a cardiologist noticed a connection between certain traits and heart problems.
To learn more about how your outlook on life affects your health, click here.
3. Not all cholesterol is bad
You’ve probably been conditioned to be wary of cholesterol, but the waxy, fat-like substance exists naturally in your blood, and your cells need it to build new cells. In fact, your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, but you also get it from foods, and that’s where an imbalance can occur. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, plaque builds up in the arteries around your heart, which makes it hard for blood to get in and out.
Click here to learn all you need to know about cholesterol.
4. Your eyes are a window to your heart health
You know annual eye exams are key to maintaining your vision, but did you know they can also be a way to check up on your heart? During an eye exam, your doctor looks at your retina, the lining at the back of your eye that turns light into images. (This is what doctors are doing when they dilate your pupils.) Changes in parts of your eye may indicate high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, all of which contribute to heart disease.
Click here to learn 9 more things an eye exam can catch.
5. You don’t have to break a sweat to improve your heart health
Exercise is good for your heart, and you don’t have to go to the gym everyday to reap its benefits. Brisk walking has been shown to improve cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, inflammation and stress.
How do you know if you’re walking briskly? Research suggests that most people need to take about 100 steps per minute to elevate their heart rate enough to see. That varies, though, depending on your fitness level.
Click here for 2 easy ways to determine how fast you need to walk to boost your heart health.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.