February is American Heart Month!

Did you know?

  • Every 25 seconds one American will have a coronary event, and every minute one American will die from one. (CDC)
  • In, 2006, 326,000 American females and 315,705 American males died of heart disease. (CDC)

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What is Heart Disease? Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. While the number of deaths from heart disease continues to grow, the good news is that many heart diseases cases can be prevented. Heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions. The most common type in the United States is coronary artery disease, which leads to heart attack and heart failure. Heart attacks occur when the blood supply to the heart muscle becomes blocked. This blockage is commonly due to a gradual build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. It is important to be aware of who is at risk for heart disease and the steps that be taken to prevent it.

A heart healthy diet is one important prevention tool. Choose lean meats and poultry without the skin, select low-fat or fat-free dairy products, cut back on beverages and foods with added sugar, choose and prepare foods with little to no salt, be aware of portion sizes, and choose healthy fats. Unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) are healthy fats and are found in foods such as nuts, avocados, and olive oil. Unhealthy fats include saturated and trans fat which are found in butter, high fat meats like bacon and sausage, and processed muffins and pastries.

Who is at Risk? Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Physical inactivity
  • High fat or high salt diet
  • Family history of heart disease

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What Can You Do?A healthy diet and active lifestyle are the best tools for preventing heart disease. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from heart disease.

  • Eat a heart healthy diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke
  • Limit alcohol use
  • Have your cholesterol checked
  • Monitor your blood pressure
  • Manage your diabetes
  • Talk to your healthcare provider

Signs & Symptoms of a Heart Attack – Not all heart attacks are sudden and intense; many start slow as mild pain or discomfort. Be aware of these signs and symptoms. When in doubt, call 911.

  • Chest Discomfort – uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back
  • Upper Body Discomfort – pain in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Shortness of Breath – may occur with or before chest discomfort
  • Other Symptoms – cold swear, nausea, or lightheadedness

Go Red for Women – wear red on February 5th to support the fight against heart disease in women!

For more information on heart disease, visit www.americanheart.org or www.cdc.gov/heartdisease

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