The arrival of February is a reminder to celebrate American Heart Month.
First recognized in 1963, the observance encourages everyone to examine their risk for heart disease and learn about lifestyle changes that can reduce risk for complications and death. Heart disease is the leading cause of mortality in the United States with one in four deaths attributed to the disease.
About every 40 seconds, an American will have a heart attack, and about 14 percent of those Americans will not survive. Taking control of your heart health can dramatically reduce your risk.
Some risk factors for heart disease are uncontrollable and include increasing age, a family history of heart disease, and gender. When compared to women, men develop coronary artery disease earlier in life, which increases the risk for a heart attack. Unfortunately, uncontrollable risk factors cannot be changed. However, it is important to be aware if they apply to you and make an increased effort to control those risk factors that can be modified.
The major risk factors that you can help control include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, obesity, and diabetes.
High levels of stress and drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk for heart disease.
Though change is often difficult, remember that small changes in your lifestyle can make a big difference in your health.
Heart disease can happen at any age so it is important to take control of your heart health now.
Here are five ways to help you reduce your risk and live a healthier life:
1. Don’t smoke
2. Talk to your provider about your risk, and work with your healthcare team to manage conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
3. Eat healthier. Choose plenty of nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean poultry and fish while limiting saturated fat, trans-fat, sodium and sugar.
4. Stay active. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week.
5. Take advantage of free or discounted heart health screenings at Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital (SGCMH) or other community events so that you can keep track of the critical numbers for your heart health. These include blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose and BMI (body mass index).
Come to SGCMH to get your blood pressure checked for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14, from 1 to 3 p.m. in our Cardiac Rehab gym.
(Information in a release from Ste. Genevieve County Memorial Hospital.)