You can’t talk about overall health without talking about your heart. In fact heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States and the world. Many times when people think about health they ignore a big resource on-hand: their local pharmacist.
The world’s biggest killer is ischaemic heart disease, responsible for 16% of total deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And it’s not improving. Since 2000, the largest increase in deaths has been for heart disease, rising by more than 2 million to 8.9 million deaths in 2019.
Here at home, one person dies every 36 seconds in the U.S. from cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
So if you want to have a healthy life, you can’t ignore your heart. You might not think about your pharmacist when you think about heart health, but local pharmacists are on the frontlines battling the disease. So how can you improve your heart health and where does your pharmacist fit in?
Steps You can Take to Improve Your Heart Health
First let’s talk about the steps you can, and should, take to protect your heart.
- Exercise: your heart is a muscle and like any muscle, it needs exercise to get stronger. Make it a priority to exercise every day. You can start out small by taking short, 10-minute walks and go from there. Lifting weights is also a great way to exercise your heart, and the other muscles in your body.
- Eat your five-a-day: you’ve heard it before, those colorful fruits and vegetables are actually very important for your health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends at least five servings per day. And, it can be much more affordable than you think. Bottom line, what you put into your body matters.
- Think beyond fruits & veggies: it’s not just fruits and vegetables you need to keep in your pantry, there are other dietary choices that make a big difference to your heart. Substituting red meat for fish at least once a week is a great step. It’s good for your waistline, your heart, and your brain. Try re-thinking snacks. Instead of a cookie, grab a handful of heart-healthy nuts: like almonds, macadamia nuts, or pecans. Some other tips: choose whole grains over refined grains and cut out sugary drinks, like flavored lattes and soda, from your daily diet.
- Wash your hands: the flu, pneumonia, COVID-19, and other viruses and infections aren’t only hard on your lungs, they’re also hard on your heart. Scrubbing your hands with soap and water is an easy way to help protect your heart.
- Get enough sleep: getting enough sleep doesn’t only make you feel better, it makes your body operate better. Most adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day.
- Make mental health a priority: last but not least, your brain is your body. When you don’t feel well upstairs it can have an impact on other elements of your health, like (you guessed it) your heart. Take steps to de-stress. Whether that means adjusting your schedule to be more manageable or ending your day with a relaxing bath. Practicing gratitude has also been shown to improve your mental health, and your life. In short, it’s important to find that balance in your life.
How Your Pharmacist Can Be Your Best Heart-Health Friend
Most people probably don’t think of their pharmacist when they think of improving their heart, but that would be a mistake. In fact, your pharmacist could become your best friend when it comes to helping you take the proper steps toward improving your heart. They often can see the bigger picture when it comes to your health.
Think about it, what’s the last stop in all your doctor’s visits: usually the pharmacy to pick up any medication you might need. This gives them the ability to see the bigger picture and customize their recommendations especially for you. Here are just a few ways your pharmacist can help you improve your heart health.
Early detection often makes all the difference when it comes to your health. Identifying coronary artery disease in its early stages could be the difference between life and death. That’s why pharmacies, like Community Pharmacy, are leading the charge when it comes to hosting regular health screenings and point-of-care testing.
Take advantage of health screenings to improve your health and detect issues early. Community Pharmacy offers screenings, like:
- Blood Pressure (BP) Screenings
- Flu Tests
- Cholesterol Screenings
- Strep Tests
- Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Tests
- Hemoglobin A1C Testing
- COVID-19 Testing
Things like staying on top of high cholesterol is essential for a healthy heart. With high cholesterol, you can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels, according to the Mayo Clinic. Eventually, these deposits grow, making it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Sometimes, those deposits can break suddenly and form a clot that causes a heart attack or stroke.
Likewise, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and can cause you to have a stroke. Offering community screenings is just one way pharmacies can help you prevent a health emergency.
Another way your pharmacist can help you improve your heart health is with supplement recommendations. Your pharmacist is apprised of your overall health and can show you the best supplements for your body. Supplements like fish oil or folic acid, might be the right thing to round-out your health care routine.
Local pharmacies are the best places to find these supplements and get supplement recommendations. Here are just a few supplements your pharmacist might recommend:
- Fish oil
- Folic acid
- Coenzyme Q10
- Sterols and stanols
Don’t sell yourself, and your health short. If you’re wondering what supplement is best for your life, ask your pharmacist.
Making sure you take the correct mix of medications on the appropriate day is integral to your health. And, pharmacies are coming up with creative ways to make it easier for you. Programs, like Community Pharmacy’s adherence solutions, are doing just that.
Research shows approximately 20% to 30% of medication prescriptions are never filled, and patients do not continue treatment as prescribed in about 50% of cases. This is especially detrimental to chronic disease prevention and management (like heart disease).
Programs like Pharm Pac group all medications by date and bundles them in custom packaging with important patient and medication information. This makes it easy to make sure you’re taking the correct medication when needed. It also helps you avoid mixing your medications and, as a bonus, is very convenient when traveling.
There are also programs like Simplify My Meds, which is a service that synchronizes your monthly prescriptions so they’re all due to be filled on the same day.
Your Pharmacist is Your Heart-Health Partner
Community Pharmacy wants to be the welcoming constant in your health care journey. A healthier community means a healthier you, and Community Pharmacy is the place to get your health back on track. For questions on how you can start improving your heart health today, contact us. We are here to help.