February is American Heart Month

Believe it or not, heart disease can happen at any age.

Some risk factors for heart disease and stroke are preventable. American Heart Month teaches us the ways we can help reduce our risks while eliminating those we have control over.  Do you have one of these risk factors for cardiovascular disease?  Obesity, physical inactivity, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, high cholesterol or diabetes.

Here are a few things you can do to prevent heart disease:

  1. Check your blood pressure often. There are millions of people in the United States who have high blood pressure, and millions of them are as young as in their 40s and 50s. If you are one of them, make sure to have it under control and keep up with your doctor.
  2. Eat healthy foods. Cutting down on salt intake and eating foods full of nutrients and essential vitamins can help lower blood pressure and regulate blood sugar.
  3. Quit smoking. Over 35 million adults in America are smokers and thousands of young people are picking up the habit daily. If you’re a smoker, do your best to quit or cut down. It’s what’s best for your health.
  4. Get exercise daily (at least a little). Pretty much any health article you read will tell you the benefits of exercise. Exercise not only helps with boosting mood and energy, but can also reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Those who get moving are nearly 50% less at risk of developing heart disease than those who spend all day sitting. Health professionals recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise per day most days of the week to maintain a healthy fitness level.
  5. Fun tip: spend more time with your pets. Studies have shown that stroking a pet can help to lower blood pressure. Read more about how pets help to keep us happy and healthy here.
  6. Know the symptoms. Unlike the highly-dramatized examples that we are shown on TV or in the movies, heart attacks often start as mild discomfort in the chest followed by more gradually more intense pain. Did you know? The symptoms can differ by gender. For men, the most common symptom is chest pain. For women, however, the symptoms can range from chest pain to nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and jaw or back pain.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women.

Heart disease kills an estimated 630,000 Americans each year. In the United States, the most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack. You can greatly reduce your risk for CAD through lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication.

In an article by heart.org they explain how to help prevent heart disease at any age. Read it here.

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