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Get Heart Healthy

It's American Heart Month! See what you can do to reduce your risk of heart disease.

February is American Heart Month

Along with Valentine’s Day, February marks American Heart Month, a great time to commit to a healthy lifestyle and make small changes that can lead to a lifetime of heart health.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. 

Types of Heart Disease

The term "heart disease" is used to cover a number of conditions involving your heart and blood vessels. Common ones include:

Heart Attack: Happens when blood flow from a coronary artery to the heart is completely blocked. You may feel “like an elephant is sitting on your chest.”

Stroke: Happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked due to a blood clot or bleeding. Symptoms vary depending on which part of the brain (and body part it controls) is affected. Symptoms can include face drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulty.

Angina: Chest soreness, tightness, or pain when the heart does not get enough blood and oxygen.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD): A disease that results when fat and cholesterol build up in the arteries and reduce blood flow and oxygen to the heart. This is the most common type of heart disease.

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Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
  • See Your Doctor. Schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about heart health. It’s important to schedule regular exams and tests even if you think you are not sick. Partner with your doctor and health care team to set goals for improving your heart health.

  • Stay Active. Start off by walking 15 minutes, 3 times each week. After a few weeks, increase your time to 30 minutes, 3 times each week.
  • Cook and Eat Healthy. Cook heart-healthy meals at home at least 3 times each week and make your favorite recipe lower sodium. For example, swap out salt for fresh or dried herbs and spices.
  • Quit Smoking and Reduce Alcohol Consumption. If you currently smoke, quitting can cut your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • Take Your Medicine. It's important that you take all medications as prescribed. Talk with your doctor about the importance of high blood pressure and cholesterol medications. 

Risk Factors for Heart Disease

A significant number of deaths from heart disease could have been prevented. Many of the risk factors can be controlled or avoided by practicing healthy lifestyle habits. Here a few risk factors to work on where you can take steps to protect your heart and your life.

High Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a waxy substance that travels in your blood. If cholesterol is too high it can start to build up on artery walls. Medication and lifestyle changes such as eating less high fat foods and more fruits and vegetables help to lower cholesterol.

High Blood Pressure: High blood pressure raises the risks of stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease. You can lower your blood pressure by taking medication and making lifestyle changes such as eating less sodium (salt) and exercising.

Lack of exercise: As little as 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week helps to protect heart health. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program.

Obesity: Even losing a little weight can help improve your health.