February Is National Heart Month
Most people associate February with the lacy, flowery red hearts of Valentine's Day. More importantly, the month is dedicated to heart health to call to mind the importance of a healthy heart and the impact of heart disease.
Heart Disease: Some Staggering Statistics
Heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States crossing gender, racial, and ethnic lines. Your heart and cardiovascular system is your body's engine, powering every other system in your body. Keeping your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape can help you avoid a heart attack, cardiac arrest, coronary heart disease, and stroke.
- 1 in every 4 deaths, about 610,000 annually, in the United States is caused by heart disease.
- From 2008 - 2010, deaths due to heart disease were highest in the western and the southeastern United States.
- Americans who are overweight, who smoke, or have other chronic conditions like diabetes are at greatest risk for heart disease.
Small Steps for a Healthy Heart
Making some small changes to your daily routine can help you lower your chances of heart disease.
- Lose some weight. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight can have a significant positive impact on your overall health.
- Improve your diet. Change your diet to include leaner proteins, heart-healthy items like fish, nuts, and whole grains, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Reduce the amount of salt you use as too much sodium can increase blood pressure.
- Stop smoking. If you currently are a smoker, stop. If you are not a smoker, never start.
Most importantly, schedule and keep an annual examination with your physician. Up to 47 percent of heart attacks happen outside of the hospital which shows that many people ignore the early warning signs of heart disease. A routine doctor's appointment can uncover and treat underlying problems like diabetes or high blood pressure to improve your overall health.
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