6 Surprising Facts About Heart Health Everyone Should Know

Photo courtesy of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio

Our heart is something most of us take for granted. It's pumping away as we read these words, and most of us won't give it a second thought until there's something wrong. The problem is that millions of people will experience something wrong with their heart this year, making it crucial that we put cardiovascular health in the spotlight, and there's no better time to do that than February, which is American Heart Month.

"Heart health is at the core of our being and is so important," explains Jennifer Scherer, a registered dietitian nutritionist, medical exercise specialist, certified personal trainer, and owner of Fredericksburg Fitness Studio. “Without heart health, we will have difficulty having anything else. We have to have a healthy heart to live to our fullest." 

The heart is considered the most complex working muscle in the body. The organ keeps us going all day, pumping blood and oxygen. Without this necessary task, well, we wouldn't be able to go on. The problem is that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the country, and according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it's preventable. The more we know how to prevent it, the better off we will all be. Plus, those who already have heart disease can still make changes to help control the risk factors, prevent a heart attack, and live a long and vital life. 

Risk factors that are associated with heart disease, according to the NIH, include smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, being overweight or obese, diabetes, and physical inactivity. Making a goal to learn more about those risks and how to minimize them can go a long way toward improving heart health, no matter what age someone is. It is always possible to start working on preventing heart disease and minimizing its associated risks.

Here are 6 surprising facts about heart health that everyone should know:

It’s not all genes. While genetics play a role in heart disease, research has shown that lifestyle plays an even more significant role. In the journal Heart Views, researchers shared a study about genetics and cardiovascular disease. They report that genetics can influence the risk for heart disease, with some issues being inheritable, such as arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy. However, they conclude that a family history of cardiovascular disease is more than genes. People with a family history of heart disease likely shared common environments and other factors that also increased the risk of cardiovascular disease, including passing down such habits as lifestyle, diet, and exercise habits. They report that those factors are more important than simply having a genetic predisposition to heart disease.

Mindfulness matters. Many people are surprised to learn that mindfulness and meditation can help improve heart health. According to Harvard Health, mindfulness meditation practice can play a role in helping to reduce heart disease risks. After reviewing dozens of studies over the last two decades, they found that meditation may improve a host of factors linked with heart disease. It's an easy, cost-effective thing that anyone can do, making it an excellent option to include in a self-care program.

Chocolate counts. Most people love to eat chocolate, and little do they know that if they are eating the dark variety, they may be helping their heart health. A study published in the journal Nutrients reports that chocolate intake is associated with decreased risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. They report that consuming chocolate up to six times per week may be optimal for preventing these disorders. They also report that high-flavanol dark chocolate intake reduced platelet aggregation and improved endothelial function. Choosing chocolate that is at least 70% cacao will ensure many antioxidants.

It’s never too late. No matter what age someone is, they can still take steps to improve their cardiovascular health. Making heart-healthy changes at any age can help reduce risks. According to, a site that shares peer-reviewed journal studies, lifestyle changes at age 50 can still add another 12-14 years to one's overall life expectancy. The research shows that by eating five fruits and vegetables daily, walking 20 minutes daily, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking, women can push life expectancy to 93 and men to 87.5. 

Start walking more. Many people realize that physical activity is essential, but they also think they have to walk 10,000 steps per day. Research has long debunked that marketing myth. According to the NIH, walking around 8,000 steps daily can help reduce the risk of death, and the step intensity doesn't influence death risks. Getting less than 4,000 steps per day is considered a low activity level, so get a pedometer or fitness watch and aim for around 8,000 per day.

Express gratitude. As people learn more about the benefits of gratitude, they are taking to doing things like keeping a gratitude journal. The experience can be life-changing, as it makes healthy mindset changes. A study published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology reports the findings of their review of 19 journal studies covering the topic of gratitude and health benefits. The studies showed that gratitude promotes mental health and adherence to healthy behaviors and improves cardiovascular health because it positively impacts the biomarkers related to it, especially asymptomatic heart failure, cardiovascular function, and autonomic nervous system activity.

“There is so much people can do to help improve their health at any age,” Scherer added. “We are here to partner with them and help them. We've helped many people improve their health, establish healthy habits, and improve their well-being."

As a registered dietitian, Scherer helps people improve their diet, plan for sustainable weight loss, and help people include healthier food choices. She and her team offer nutrition coaching services, wellness, acupressure, personal training, in-home medical training, virtual personal training, and a Pilates reformer program, which features a versatile machine designed to provide resistance. It can be used when standing, sitting, or lying down. All workouts on it are custom-tailored for the individual to address their physical fitness concerns. 

Fredericksburg Fitness Studio doesn't offer memberships as other gyms do. They offer private customized fitness programs that are available by appointment. Many people who go to the studio are referrals from physical therapists and doctors. The wellness professionals at the studio communicate with the medical teams to keep them up to date on patient progress. To learn more about Fredericksburg Fitness Studio, visit the site:


Cher Murphy

Cher Murphy, owner of Cher Murphy PR, brings with her a wealth of experience in covering a variety of interesting fields. As an expert in public relations, she works with clients in some of the most popular sectors, including health and wellness, education, restaurants, travel, and entertainment. With a nose for news and a gift of professional presentation, she is able to deliver high quality, ent...(Read More)

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