Publish 3 February 2022
Ready to Begin a Healthier Life
February Heart Health Awareness Month
What can you do differently this month to improve your heart health? Many suggestions get little more than a passing thought. Heart health awareness is not simply for wearing colored ribbons or posting flyers. We should all take heart health seriously because it is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. 
Every year I do as much as I can to promote heart health awareness. Months ago, I was listening to an interesting talk radio segment with a cardiologist. Afterwards, I jotted down four main points to improve heart health. It is my pleasure to share them with you. Identify at least one change that will improve your heart health. Of the four points, the one that stood out to me is use of NSAIDs.
Effect of NSAIDs on Heart Health
NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen. They are often prescribed and overused for pain. This can negatively affect your heart health. Overuse of NSAIDs can lead to stroke, heart failure, myocardial infarction, hypertension, and venous thromboembolism. Those are some pretty big words. Let’s just say that a heart attack negates efforts to reduce pain with NSAIDs. Since 2001, several studies suggest that high doses of NSAIDs cause severe cardiovascular risks and death. 
Avoid Bad NSAID Effects
Some of you may recall a prior injury led me to swallowing five or more NSAIDs daily. I listened intently to the radio talk show and had a thorough discussion with my doctor. My conclusion is that small doses of NSAIDs do not adversely affect heart health. NSAIDs are also safe if taken infrequently. Be aware that NSAID side effects occur as early as the first week of continuous use.
Alternatives to NSAIDs
My doctor provides the insight that there are less dangerous alternatives to NSAIDs. He advises me to use hot or cold packs and physical therapy to relieve muscle or joint pain. NSAIDS include ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and my favorite, naproxen. Studies suggest that naproxen is less likely to affect heart health.
Other Efforts to Extend Heart Life
Since heart function requires no conscious effort, many people take heartbeats for granted. Your heart is a muscular organ that requires as much care as any other part of your body. Beyond reduction in NSAID use, three more things contribute to your heart health are below. 
- Nutrition – Meals should contain mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and nuts. Moreover, you should limit salt, sugar, and red meat from your meal.
- Exercise – Consider doing 30 minutes of cardio aerobic exercise five days a week. Exercise improves cognition and reduces stress.
- Smoking – Quit smoking because it is injurious to heart health. An unhindered cardiopulmonary system is important for proper oxygenation of blood.
Those are my notes from the radio program. I hope they are helpful to you. Which will you put into practice this month?