American Heart Month: Why heart health matters for bone & joint health

February is American Heart Month. Did you know that the heart and the bones and joints are closely connected? Read below to learn more!

February is recognized as American Heart Month to bring awareness to heart health and the risks of heart disease. The CDC and American Heart Association use this month to educate and encourage Americans to take action to prevent heart disease in themselves and loved ones.

What is heart disease?

As the number one cause of death for adults in the U.S., heart disease is often caused by high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Smoking is also an important risk factor for heart disease.

  • High blood pressure can cause damage to the lining of your arteries, which can lead to a buildup of plaque that causes your arteries to narrow.
  • High cholesterol causes buildup in the walls of your arteries as well and can double your risk of heart disease.
  • The chemicals inhaled from smoking tobacco lead to narrowed blood vessels as well as plaque buildup.

All these conditions lead to reduced blood flow to key organs including the heart, lungs, brain, and kidneys. This can also negatively impact your musculoskeletal (MSK) system, or the bones, joints, and muscles.

How are the heart and MSK system connected?

The MSK system is closely linked to the heart in several ways.

First, the bones contain bone marrow that is responsible for producing red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

Next, the heart pumps these blood cells throughout the body and back into the MSK system. This provides key nutrients and oxygen to the bones and muscles to help them function.

The heart and the MSK system work together to keep your body healthy. There are multiple steps you can take to ensure that both your heart and your MSK system are working properly:

  1. Engaging in regular physical activity, such as walking, cycling, or swimming, can promote blood circulation and oxygen delivery to the muscles and tissues. It also helps lower your risk of heart disease.
  2. Eating a healthy diet that is low in sodium and cholesterol can decrease your risk of heart disease by helping you maintain a healthy weight, which also reduces your risk of MSK disease or injury.
  3. Cutting back or quitting smoking can significantly improve your blood circulation and heart function. It is also shown that smoking is linked to a higher risk of MSK pain and arthritis.

To observe American Heart Month this February, you can take steps to practice these healthy lifestyle behaviors that promote both a healthy heart and healthy bones, joints, and muscles.

Published on February 8, 2023