Direct Energy Wellness: Protecting the Heart

The Direct Energy Wellness series is designed to help you establish and maintain healthy living habits in the workplace. Our wellness experts will introduce you to a range of tips to keep your body and mind in tip-top shape – including exercises you can do at your desk!

February is American Heart Month, so here at Direct Energy Wellness, we want to focus our attention this month on the heart by educating you on the perils of heart disease and how you can improve your heart health.

Direct Energy Wellness: Protecting the Heart
February is all about the heart.

About 735,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 120,000 die.  About 635,000 people in the U.S. have a first-time heart attack each year, and about 300,000 of them have recurrent heart attacks.

To put this in larger context, heart disease is the Number 1 cause of death in the world and the leading cause of death in the United States, killing over 375,000 Americans a year. Specifically, heart disease is the Number 1 killer of women, taking more lives than all forms of cancer combined.  On Friday, February 5th, join with the American Heart Association for National Wear Red Day, an initiative designed to raise awareness for women’s heart health.

Direct and indirect costs of cardiovascular diseases and stroke total more than $320.1 billion. That includes health expenditures and lost productivity.

Here are 7 tips to improve or maintain good heart health:

Direct Energy Wellness: Protecting the Heart
Seriously – If you haven’t been to the doctor for a physical in over a year, please do so soon.
  1. See your doctor. Get screened to assess your current heart health.
  2. Know your cholesterol levels. This means understanding the difference between good cholesterol (HDL) vs. bad cholesterol (LDL).
  3. Eat better. This includes eating more servings of whole/multi grain products (bran and oats), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, and albacore tuna), fruits and vegetables (rich in antioxidants), high omega-3 fatty acids (avocado, flax seeds, olive and canola oil), and plant sterols (walnuts and almonds).
  4. Exercise or get active. 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day (like brisk walking), five times per week, can raise HDL levels and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
  5. Eat more fiber. Fiber acts as a net that catches cholesterol and sends it out of the body
  6. Reduce consumption of unhealthy foods. Yes, this does mean soda, candy, and sugary desserts.
  7. Stop smoking! Smoking damages your entire circulatory system and increases your risk for coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysm, and blood clots.

While we certainly do want you to improve your hearth health, please consult your physician before beginning a new exercise regimen or making dietary changes.

Later this month, Direct Energy Wellness will provide some helpful desk exercises designed to improve heart health while you’re at work.

About 

Currently the Wellbeing & Engagement Manager for Direct Energy, Terrick Smith is a wellness professional with more than 15 years of experience. He has served at some of today’s most successful companies, including MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he worked as a wellness coach responsible for motivating and educating over 18,000 employees.

Terrick has the gold standard of certifications - ACSM Exercise Physiologist - and is also a NASM Fitness nutrition specialist. He completed the ADA-accredited Didactic Program in Dietetics at University of Houston, and he is eligible to sit for the Registered Dietitian exam.