We love to decorate with hearts this month and send love notes dotted with hearts for Valentine’s Day. We sing songs about love and eat chocolate shaped hearts. We say things like “Follow your heart” and “I love you with all my heart” but are we really ever stopping to think about our own actual hearts beating inside, keeping us alive faithfully day after day? We know you have a lot of love to give and want (and expect) your precious heart to continue beating for countless years to come. February is American Heart Month and it’s time to raise awareness for heart health so yours will remain healthy and strong.
Sadly, heart disease is women’s #1 threat right now. 1 in 4 women in the U.S. dies of heart disease. The most common cause of heart disease in both men and women is blockage of the heart arteries that supply blood to the heart itself. This is called coronary artery disease, and it happens slowly over time. It’s the major reason people have heart attacks.
While genetics do play a role in every aspect of heart disease, the vast majority of cases are due to risk factors that respond to lifestyle modifications. “There are six fundamental risk factors: high blood pressure and obesity, cholesterol and diabetes, and being a smoker and being sedentary,” says Dr. Fuster, a cardiologist with four decades of experience.
Know the warning signs. Click here for a quick refresher.
You can lower your chance of heart disease and heart attack by taking simple steps.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be active. Exercise regularly.
- Be smoke-free. If you are ready to quit, consider calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
- Limit alcohol use. See your health care provider for a checkup, especially if you have any risk factors or symptoms.
- Talk to your health care provider and ask questions to better understand your health.
- Know your family history. There may be factors that could increase your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Manage any medical condition you might have.