The Hardworking Heart--Give it some love!
But for all our hearts do for us, are we doing everything can to keep our hearts happy and healthy? According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the unfortunate truth is that many Americans are at high risk for developing heart disease.
Heart Disease--The Silent Killer
- Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S.
- About 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
- 67 million American adults (31%) have high blood pressure—that’s 1 of every 3 adults.
1 of 3 American adults has prehypertension
- Less than half (47%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
- High blood pressure costs the nation $47.5 billion each year
- Someone in the U.S. has a heart attack every 34 seconds.
- Each minute, an American dies from a heart disease-related event.
Preventing Heart Disease--Are You At Risk?
Heart disease can have many contributing factors including congenital birth defects, genetics, age, and lifestyle habits. However, most cases of heart disease heart disease are preventable. The American Heart Association has identified lifestyle habits such as smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, and being overweight all put a person at serious risk for heart and cardiovascular diseases. Stress is another major contributing factor, and stress is something we all experience.
How Stress Affects the Heart
The American Heart Association considers effective stress-management to be key in keeping a healthy heart. In addition to exercise, keeping a positive attitude, enjoying a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting enough sleep, research is proving that massage therapy can be a safe, effective way to maintain a healthy heart.
5 Reasons Massage is Good For Your Heart
Research has proven massage therapy is effective stress relief. Massage therapy can reduce stress significantly on physical and psychological levels including decreased blood pressure and heart rate and improvements in mood and emotional states. Massage is also proven effective relief for anxiety and tension headaches.
Massage has been proven to decrease blood pressure and heart rate, and has been shown to significantly decrease in the hormone arginine-vasopressin (a major player in regulating blood pressure and water retention). Numerous controlled studies have shown significant reductions in blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the "stress-hormone" cortisol after just 10-15 minutes of massage!
In the United States, only about half the people being treated for high blood pressure have actually succeeded in getting it under control. Many people with heart disease or high blood pressure are prescribed medications. Too often these medications do very little to help, with a long list of undesirable side effects.
In a recent scientific study, researchers studied 236 volunteers who received up to 60 minutes of massage therapy. Average systolic blood pressure fell by more than 10 mg Hg, diastolic pressure reduction of 5.3 mm Hg, and heart rate decreased by 10 beats per minute after just one treatment. That's better a reduction than many prescription medications, without any nasty side-effects. Findings of another recent study indicated that massage also has a lasting and significant effect on blood pressure 72 hours later compared to the control group.
Despite healthy lifestyles and all that preventative medicine has to offer, some people still will undergo surgery for their heart conditions. Recents studies have shown that massage therapy reduces tension, anxiety, and pain in patients awaiting invasive cardiovascular procedures. Massage therapy can also significantly reduce the pain, anxiety, and muscular tension, as well as improve relaxation and satisfaction after cardiac surgery.
In a recent survey, 64% of hospitals reported using massage therapy as part of outpatient care, and 44% use massage therapy as part of inpatient care. Among Consumer Reports readers who used deep tissue massage, usually for back or neck pain, 28% said their doctors had recommended it.