(Family Features) While most parents are good at keeping track of vaccines their kids need to stay healthy, many adults don’t realize there are immunizations important for keeping themselves heart-healthy, as well.
Adults, especially those with a history of heart disease or stroke, should take steps to stay up-to-date on preventive vaccines, particularly for the flu and COVID-19.
Influenza – While many experience just a few days of aches and chills, the flu can be deadly for some, including young children, the elderly and those with chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. There has also been research linking flu infection to cardiovascular disease (CVD). Getting a flu shot can not only prevent the flu, it may also reduce the risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
In fact, a study published in “Stroke” found that, among a group of people hospitalized for various reasons, those who experienced a flu-like illness within a month of their hospitalization were 38% more likely to have a stroke. Receiving the flu vaccine within a year prior to hospitalization lowered a person’s stroke risk to 11%.
“Getting an annual flu shot should be part of routine health care for all individuals, especially for people who are already living with chronic health conditions that put them at higher risk for heart attacks or strokes,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., FAHA, American Heart Association chief medical officer for prevention. “The potentially serious complications of the flu are far greater for those with chronic diseases. This is true not just for older people but even those age 50 and younger who have a history of high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes.”
COVID-19 – At the onset of the pandemic, the American Heart Association established the COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry, which found people with or at risk for CVD were more likely to become infected with and die from COVID-19. Additionally, the research found many people experience heart and vascular disease after getting COVID-19.
A study from the registry published in “Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology” found new-onset atrial fibrillation in 1 in 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Additionally, research also found people hospitalized with COVID-19 had a higher risk of stroke compared with people who had similar infectious conditions such as influenza or sepsis.
“We can’t stress enough the connections between COVID-19 and cardiovascular disease,” Sanchez said. “There is clear evidence that people who have heart and vascular disease and even those with CVD risk factors are more likely to get COVID and to have more severe complications from the virus.”
Other Immunizations – While flu and COVID-19 vaccines are of the utmost importance, there are a number of other immunizations that can help keep people heart-healthy.
- The pneumococcal vaccination protects against a common cause of severe pneumonia and is especially important for people 65 and older, and others with certain underlying medical conditions. This type of pneumonia can be deadly, especially for people already at high risk for health complications, including CVD. One shot is usually good for several years, although you may need a second one later depending on your age at your first shot.
- Shingles, a viral infection caused by the chickenpox virus, has been linked to an increased risk of stroke. More than 99% of people age 40 or older in the United States may carry the dormant chickenpox virus, also known as the varicella-zoster virus, and not even realize it.
Learn more about important immunizations and find other preventive health tips at heart.org.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
American Heart Association
Exploring the Healthiest Communities in the United States: California Counties Shine Bright
Discover how California’s Marin County leads the healthiest U.S. communities, boasting high life expectancy and low obesity rates in a recent study.
A recent study by MarketWatch has unveiled a list of the healthiest communities in the United States, with California counties claiming top spots. Marin County, nestled across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, emerged as the healthiest county, boasting a remarkable life expectancy of 85, a lower-than-average adult obesity rate, and a mere 5 percent of residents without health insurance.
The study evaluated 576 U.S. counties using 14 key metrics, including food insecurity, healthcare access, life expectancy, health insurance coverage, and environmental factors like water and air quality. Western states dominated the top 10 list, with Colorado, Hawaii, and Montana also showcasing exemplary county health profiles.
The findings emphasized a correlation between community health and wealth, with affluent areas exhibiting lower rates of food insecurity and higher levels of health insurance coverage. The presence of nature parks in many of the healthiest counties underscored the positive impact of green spaces on well-being, aligning with scientific research on the subject.
However, the study also shed light on disparities, highlighting that residents in the unhealthiest counties face challenges such as limited access to grocery stores, higher rates of food insecurity, and inadequate primary care services. Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, was identified as the least healthy county due to high uninsured rates and poor environmental quality.
In California, 37 out of 58 counties were ranked, with Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties clinching top positions. The data revealed a stark contrast in median incomes between the healthiest and unhealthiest counties, with Marin County boasting a median income well above the national average.
This comprehensive analysis serves as a valuable resource for policymakers and healthcare professionals striving to address disparities and promote well-being across communities. It underscores the importance of factors such as access to healthcare, environmental quality, and socioeconomic status in shaping overall community health outcomes.
Celebrating National Random Acts of Kindness Day
“February 17th marks National Random Acts of Kindness Day, a celebration encouraging acts of kindness that spread joy and positivity nationwide.”
Every year on February 17th, National Random Acts of Kindness Day gains momentum as a day dedicated to spreading goodwill and positivity. People from all walks of life come together to celebrate this occasion, emphasizing the importance of kindness in our daily interactions.
The essence of this day lies in the simplicity of performing acts of kindness, both big and small, to brighten someone else’s day. Whether it’s buying a coffee for a stranger, complimenting a co-worker, or simply offering a listening ear, these gestures have the power to make a significant impact on someone’s life.
What makes National Random Acts of Kindness Day truly special is its ability to inspire a ripple effect of positivity. Acts of kindness not only benefit the recipient but also uplift the spirits of the giver, creating a cycle of compassion and empathy that transcends boundaries.
As individuals, groups, and organizations come together to participate in this day, the message of kindness spreads far and wide, fostering a sense of community and unity. It serves as a reminder that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a difference in the world around us.
So, this National Random Acts of Kindness Day, let us embrace the spirit of generosity and compassion. Let us take a moment to brighten someone’s day, spread a little joy, and make the world a kinder place for all.
Time is Running Out: Life Time’s 3 Key Tips for Choosing a Summer Camp
CHANHASSEN, Minn. /PRNewswire/ — With summer creeping closer, parents are now on the lookout for engaging activities to fill their kids’ days once school is out. Life Time (NYSE: LTH), which serves more than 31,000 children aged 5 to 12 annually at its summer camps across North America, offers these tips from its Kids experts to guide parents in selecting a camp this year.
- Look for Unique Activities – Consider a summer camp that engages kids in new active experiences, helps them learn different skills and encourages them to be healthy. Every Life Time Summer Camp includes weekly themes, from science experiments to outdoor exploration, giving kids an opportunity to learn and try something new every day. Two electives are included every week including art, STEAM activities, sports, athletic training, dance, coding, cheer and pickleball. There are also weekly Friday field trips to museums, zoos, aquariums, waterparks, amusement parks and other local attractions.
- Is the Summer Camp Flexible? – Parents are busier now than ever before. Be sure to check that your summer camp start and end times work for everyone. Many camps have forced times for drop-off and pick-up, creating extra challenges. Life Time has extended hours to accommodate parents’ busy schedules. Camp runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Before care (7-9 a.m.) and aftercare (4-6 p.m.) are included in the cost of camp. Additionally, consider asking about flexible payment options. At Life Time, parents can pay in full during registration, or choose a flex payment plan for the same total price.
- Save Time with Swim Lessons – Summer is a great time to get kids started with swim lessons. Why not cross two things off the list with a summer camp that includes swim lessons? Registration for Life Time’s summer camps includes twice weekly swim lessons supervised by lifeguards and trained professionals, ensuring parents’ peace of mind regarding water safety throughout the season.
Life Time’s Kids Camps are designed to give children an unforgettable experience full of adventures, sports, activities, and friendships, all while keeping them active through the summer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, active children tend to have better grades in school, improved concentration and better cognitive performance.
“What truly sets our summer camps apart at Life Time is the quality and variety of content your child will be experiencing. Each day has a unique lesson plan, so kids never get bored,” said Samantha Stark, Senior Director of Life Time’s Kids Programming. “If you add in our unique offering of electives and swim lessons, kids at Life Time’s camps will be well-equipped to have a healthy, happy summer.”
Busy families at Life Time looking for an exciting way to keep their kids healthy and active this summer can now register for the Life Time’s 2024 Summer Camps. For more information about camps near you and to register, visit the Life Time Summer Camps website.
About Life Time®
Life Time (NYSE: LTH) empowers people to live healthy, happy lives through its portfolio of more than 170 athletic country clubs across the United States and Canada. The Company’s healthy way of life communities and ecosystem address all aspects of healthy living, healthy aging and healthy entertainment for people 90 days to 90+ years old. Supported by a team of more than 37,000 dedicated professionals, Life Time is committed to providing the best programs and experiences through its clubs, iconic athletic events and comprehensive digital platform.
SOURCE Life Time, Inc.
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