Heart Health and Multiple Sclerosis
February is American Heart Month. Heart disease, hypertension and high cholesterol are common in people with multiple sclerosis. Research suggests that having additional chronic health conditions such as heart disease with Multiple Sclerosis may decrease quality of life and increase the likelihood of disability. However, there are a number of choices that you can make every day to improve your heart health and in turn improve your overall health and quality of life with MS.
Smoking causes serious health problems. Smokers have more lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems than non-smokers.
Roughly 1 in 5 deaths from heart disease are related directly to smoking. Avoid second hand smoke too; it can lead to heart disease in people who don’t smoke. Smoking is bad for your heart because:
It reduces the amount of oxygen that gets to your heart.
It raises your blood pressure.
It speeds up your heart rate.
It increases your risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or strokes.
It damages the inside of your blood vessels, including those in your heart .
Smoking is known to cause shortness of breath, susceptibility to lung infections and heartbeat irregularities, which might transform a moderate neurological limitation into a severe disability in a person with MS.
Smokers with weakness or incoordination present a fire hazard.
Enjoy A Balanced Diet
Choose a variety of nourishing foods every day that fuel your body and make you feel good. Eat when you are hungry, savor every bite and stop when you are full.
Move Your Body
Your heart is a muscle, and it gets stronger and healthier if you lead an active life. It’s never too late to start exercising, and you don’t have to be an athlete. Even taking a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can make a big difference. If 30 minutes at one time is not doable for you, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day. And remember that something is always better than nothing!
Read my article about exercise and MS here.
Talk with Your Doctor
If you have a chronic health condition like MS, arthritis, heart disease or diabetes talk with your doctor to find out if your condition limits, in any way, your ability to be active. Then, work with your doctor or a physical therapist to come up with a personal exercise program that meets your needs. Physical therapists may make recommendations about:
The types of exercise that are best for you and those you should avoid.
How long and intense your workouts should be.
The right exercises depend on your symptoms, fitness level, and overall health.
Any physical limitations for your routines
Go here to read more about how a physical therapist can help you.
Go here to find an MS Exercise Challenge offered by Healthline.com. You will get 30 different strength training and mobility exercises designed by a physical therapist for MS patients sent to your email. I have no affiliation to this program but have tried it myself. Check with your MD before beginning the program.
Go here for some great Tips for Exercising with MS! You will find a very thorough and helpful list of exercise tips for Active MSers written by an Active MSer.
Relax and Fight Stress With Healthy Habits
Although stress is not a direct cause of hypertension and heart disease it is often a significant factor in initiating cycles of unhealthy behaviors.
Chronic stress can cause a variety of symptoms that can be debilitating on their own including
Lack of Energy of Interest
The way that we respond to stress can lead to unhealthy behaviors or habits that are associated with heart disease. When you are stressed do you ever:
Eat to calm down?
Eat very fast or eat while working?
Drink Alcohol or smoke to calm down?
Skip your exercise routine?
Opt for quick but not so nourishing food choices?
Go here to read my article about MS and stress.
Don’t forget to wear red on Friday February 5… It’s National Wear Red Day!
And speaking of red... put on your red lipstick and take a selfie then spread the word on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using #kissgoodbyetoms. I don’t wear much lipstick but managed to find some digital lipstick that I think worked out just fine!