Heart Health Matters
February is American Heart Month, giving each of us a chance to refocus on our cardiovascular health. So, let’s brush up on our heart health knowledge for a better understanding of heart disease risk factors and action steps that can be taken to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
Who’s at risk of heart disease?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease causes about 695,000 deaths in the United States each year. That translates into one in every five deaths.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups. People at higher risk include individuals with:
- High blood pressure – Tens of millions of adult Americans have high blood pressure. High blood pressure is often referred to as a “silent killer” because there are usually no warning signs or symptoms. You can quickly check your blood pressure at home or by visiting a doctor’s office or pharmacy.
- High cholesterol – High cholesterol increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. It has no symptoms, but a simple blood test can check your levels. Adults over the age of 20 with no history of cardiovascular disease should have their cholesterol levels checked every four to six years.
Other risk factors include having diabetes and being overweight or obese. Genetics may also play a role. Conditions like high blood pressure can be inherited, so it’s important to discuss your complete family history with your doctor to determine if you have an increased risk.
Lifestyle choices can also increase your risk, such as smoking, eating an unhealthy diet and not exercising enough.
Simple ways to love your heart
One person dies every 33 seconds in the U.S. due to a heart disease-related event. Small steps to improve your heart health can make a huge impact. Start by discussing your risks and family history with your doctor. Next, make lifestyle changes to decrease your risk. It’s really that simple!
- Eat a healthy diet – Include fresh fruits and vegetables. Set goals to eat less processed foods.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Not everyone fits the same mold, so be sure to use your Body Mass Index (BMI) as a gauge rather than societal standards.
- Exercise regularly – Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week.
- Avoid smoking and other tobacco products – Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease.
- Limit alcohol consumption – The CDC recommends that men have no more than two drinks per day and women only have one on days when alcohol is consumed.
Heart Health Matters Infographic
Below is an infographic you can share with your friends, family and co-workers. We encourage you to share this important message about heart health across your social media accounts. You can also print it out and hang it in the break room or bulletin board.
Click here for a PDF version.
Another good practice is to sign up for an HSI CPR, AED and First Aid class. Learn to recognize all the warning signs for a heart attack and the difference between heart attacks and sudden cardiac arrest.