Heart disease is one of the leading health concerns for millions of Americans every single year. The good news is that there are steps individuals can take to be proactive in their care in managing, preventing, and recovering from heart disease-related conditions, including physical therapy. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your chest or any other signs of heart disease or heart failure, please seek immediate care. Learn more about some interesting facts about heart health, some risk factors for heart disease to look out for, and see how physical therapy can promote heart health.
Heart disease and heart failure ranks as the leading cause of mortality in the United States. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease. Every forty seconds, an individual in the United States has a heart attack, and roughly 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year. Of those, just over 600,000 have a heart attack for the first time, roughly 200,000 have had an additional heart attack in the past, and approximately 1 out of every 5 heart attacks are silent where the individual isn’t aware. Heart disease and related heart issues cost hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the cost of healthcare services, medicine, and lost productivity. Nearly half of all adults have hypertension, or high blood pressure, and only about 1 in 4 have their hypertension under control. Another interesting fact is that men often have higher blood pressure than women, and begin to experience complications earlier than women as they age. While those are some alarming statistics, there are things individuals can do to identify and then work towards reducing their risks for heart disease and heart-related complications.
Heart disease encompasses many different heart-related conditions and there are risk factors that are both within and outside of your control like genetics which may predispose you to an increased risk of heart disease. Some of the biggest risk factors that are outside of your control may include family history. Heart disease may run in your family that could increase the likelihood that there will be concerns or complications in the future. In addition, demographics may play a role as those who are older have a higher risk for heart disease than younger generations. If you’re in a higher risk category, there are things you can do that are within your control to reduce the likelihood of heart disease, including physical therapy. Some risk factors that are within your control or that you can work to improve upon may include things like avoiding smoking or excessive drinking, improving your weight, increasing your physical activity, controlling diabetes, monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure, and more.
Physical therapy can be beneficial for those who are looking to address heart disease and reduce their risks in the future. Take a look at some of the many ways that physical therapy can promote heart health.
Another benefit to how physical therapy can help promote a healthy heart is through the identification and implementation of lifestyle and activity modifications. Just because you’ve gotten older and you’re not as active as you once were, doesn’t mean that you have to stop doing all the things you found joy in or routinely did. Instead, your physical therapist will work with you to identify lifestyle and activity modifications you can do to increase your activity levels and learn new ways of performing certain tasks so that you can continue to remain independent and do the things you enjoy most while reducing pain.
Physical therapy is also beneficial for helping individuals get mobile. As we age, activity levels tend to decline which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease. Physical therapy can help you address mobility concerns and help you increase your stamina and strength to improve your mobility when performing everyday activities.
Physical therapy can also be beneficial in helping to identify early warning signs of heart conditions through monitoring of blood pressure, oxygen, and other vital signs. In collaboration with other care professionals, your physical therapist will work with you to take an active role in your health and well-being, and can help you take a more proactive approach in addressing health issues as they arise.
Another benefit of physical therapy and your heart health is that it can be a great tool to learn more about cardiovascular disease and the steps you can take to reduce your risks and promote healthy lifestyle habits. This may include discussions around some of the lifestyle habits that you can control which may have an impact on risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Physical therapy can also promote a healthy heart through the encouragement of physical activity. Your physical therapist will work with you to improve your ability to get active and implement activity changes that you can do to increase the amount of exercise you get throughout the week. Physical therapy can help you improve function, mobility, strength, and endurance so that you can gradually increase your physical activity based on your unique needs and goals. Before beginning any exercise or stretching routine, you should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. The American Heart Association recommends that individuals get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity spread throughout the week. In addition, the AHA recommends that individuals try to spend less time sitting and that even light activity can help to offset some of the risks that can arise from being sedentary.
Physical therapy can also be a beneficial tool to help you build confidence as you work towards a healthy lifestyle. Health concerns can be stressful events and your physical therapist will work with you throughout your care journey to help build your confidence in your ability to live a healthy lifestyle.
Chronic pain has been linked to a significant association in those who develop cardiovascular disease. Physical therapy can play a pivotal role in helping to reduce and alleviate pain for those who are dealing with a recent injury or chronic pain. Chronic pain may cause elevated heart rate and a spike in blood pressure. In addition, chronic pain may lead to long-term use of pain medications which can also increase the risk of heart disease. Chronic pain may also cause individuals to decrease their activity levels which may increase the risk of heart disease as well. Physical therapy can also be beneficial for teaching you how to manage pain and other chronic conditions. Your physical therapist will work with you to help improve function and overall quality of life for chronic conditions with includes tips on how to self-manage symptoms, implement lifestyle changes, and how to take an active role throughout your care for chronic conditions. Physical therapists are movement experts who can help to alleviate and reduce pain to help individuals address their pain and many of the associated risk factors that can stem from chronic pain.
Taking care of your heart is something we all need to do, regardless of age. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make a few lifestyle adjustments and take a proactive approach to your cardiovascular health. Physical therapy is a beneficial treatment option for individuals who are looking to improve their heart health. Request an appointment at a physical therapy clinic near you to see how physical therapy can help you reach your vascular goals.