February is all about hearts — and not just ones made of chocolate. Since 1963, the month has been recognized as American Heart Month — a time when we’re urged to focus on our heart health and join the fight against heart disease — the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. You can show your support in several ways, including participating in National Wear Red Day on Friday, Feb. 5, to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease.
IN HONOR OF HEART MONTH, HERE ARE 15 FACTS ABOUT YOUR HEART YOU MAY NOT KNOW:
- Each day, your heart will beat about 115,000 times.
- The average heart is about the size of an adult fist.
- Daniel Hale Williams, one of the few Black U.S. cardiologists at the time, performed the first open-heart surgery in 1893.
- A normal heart valve is about the size of a half dollar.
- Your heart pumps 1.5 gallons of blood each minute.
- The right side of your heart pumps blood into your lungs, while the left side sends oxygen-rich blood back into your body.
- A woman’s average heartbeat is faster than a man’s by almost eight beats per minute.
- The heart pumps blood through about 60,000 miles of blood vessels that feed your organs and tissues.
- You may think of heart disease as a man’s affliction, but it accounts for one in five female deaths.
- A man’s heart weighs about 10 ounces, while a woman’s weighs about 8 ounces.
- The signs of a heart attack can be different for women, who tend to report nausea, indigestion, back pain and fatigue rather than the classic symptom of chest pain.
- Laughter is good for your heart. A good belly laugh can increase the amount of oxygenated blood pumping through your body by about 20 percent, improving your vascular function.
- The average person’s resting heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. During the night while we sleep, it can drop to as low as 40 beats per minute. This rhythm is significant, as studies have shown those who have trouble sleeping are more vulnerable to issues that can lead to a greater risk of heart disease.
- Your heart is a muscle strengthened through exercise. Your heart health improves with just 30 minutes of exercise on most days.
- In moderation, chocolate (due to cocoa, the main ingredient) and wine are beneficial for your heart, as they contain antioxidants that have been shown to increase good cholesterol, lower bad cholesterol and improve blood-clotting function.