Listen to Your Heart…

As you probably know, February is “Heart Month” in Canada. Heart Month aims to increase our awareness of the causes of heart disease and to teach us a heart-healthy lifestyle. According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, cardiovascular disease causes the death of more Canadian women than all forms of cancer combined and one in three deaths in Canada is due to heart disease or stroke.


Canada is seeing a dramatic increase in physical inactivity, obesity and diabetes which are all conditions that may lead to heart disease and stroke. We make choices everyday to affect our health. A heart healthy lifestyle is one that includes regular physical activity, healthy eating and a healthy weight. In addition, lowering your stress level, stopping smoking, monitoring your blood pressure, checking your cholesterol level are important for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system and a healthy heart.


What is often overlooked with these facts and recommendations is the emotional aspect of heart disease. There are people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol that live well into their nineties, whereas other people have a stroke when they are not even 50 years old. Quite clearly, physical and emotional factors are involved in the development of any disease: our physical and our emotional life are intrinsically intertwined and connected. Emotions have direct physical effects on the heart and cardiovascular system via the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Our emotions stimulate specific areas of the nervous system. We know about these facts: When we get anxious or angry, our heart starts to race. The opposite is also true: Feeling loved and appreciated generates heart rhythms that calm us down and harmonize us.


In our society, where we are constantly under pressure from work, finances and day-to-day logistics, it is easy to neglect the desires of our heart. In order to achieve calm and harmony, it is important to connect to ourselves, to our family and loved ones. Living a life with passion and joy results in a healthy cardiovascular system and enhances the level of nitric oxide. The inner lining of blood vessels (endothelium) uses nitric oxide to signal the surrounding muscles to relax, resulting in widening of blood vessels and increasing blood flow and circulation. When you do anything with passion and joy such as going for a walk, going dancing, playing soccer with your son or reading a good book, nitric oxide is released into your body cells thus promoting cardiovascular health.


Stay open and listen to your heart! Spend quality time with those ones you care about and love. Play soccer with your son and leave the laundry and dishes for a while… Go for a walk in the moonlight after a long day of work. Make time for yourself to quiet down. Maybe start writing a journal to find out what your desires and needs are. What did you always want to do? Did you always want to dance, roller skate or write a novel? Are there things in life you would like to do, but you never find the time? Well, make a point of making time! Go for it! Sign up for dance lessons, get yourself a pair of roller skates, sit down to start writing your novel or whatever your heart desires. Follow your passion. Enjoy! This is one of the best ways you can support your health. Happy Valentine!