February Is Heart Month

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American Heart Month

Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. But you can do a lot to protect your heart and stay healthy.

The first step toward heart health is understanding your risk of heart disease. Your risk depends on many factors, some of which are changeable and others that are not. Risk factors are conditions or habits that make a person more likely to develop a disease. These risk factors may be different for each person.

Preventing heart disease starts with knowing what your risks factors are and what you can do to lower them.

Your risk of heart disease is higher if you:

  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Have prediabetes or diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Do not get regular physical activity
  • Have a family history of early heart disease (your father or brother was diagnosed before age 55, or your mother or sister was diagnosed before age 65)
  • Have a history of preeclampsia (a sudden rise in blood pressure and too much protein in the urine during pregnancy)
  • Have unhealthy eating behaviors
  • Are older (age 55 or older for women or age 45 or older for men)

Each risk factor increases a person’s chance of developing heart disease. The more risks you have, the higher your overall risk.

Some risk factors cannot be changed. These include your age, sex, and a family history of early heart disease. But many others can be modified. For example, being more physically active and eating healthy are important steps for your heart health. You can make the changes gradually, one at a time. But making them is very important.

What can you do?

  • Get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked
  • Choose heart healthy foods
  • Aim for a healthy weight
  • Manage stress
  • Get regular physical activity
  • If you smoke, quit smoking
  • Get enough good, quality sleep

For more information on heart health visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org