February is American Heart Month, a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health.
The Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention is shining a light on hypertension (high blood pressure), a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. The Division is committed to addressing barriers to health equity in communities disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease.
Why do we observe American Heart Month every February? Well, every year more than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease. The number one cause of death for most groups, heart disease affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, and excessive alcohol use.
Do you know how to keep your heart healthy? You can take an active role in reducing your risk for heart disease by eating a healthy diet, engaging in physical activity, and managing your cholesterol and blood pressure. This is a great chance to start some heart-healthy habits!
HOW TO OBSERVE AMERICAN HEART MONTH
Take up a heart-healthy habit – Staying active, eating healthy, and watching our weight are all important parts of maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Pick a new heart-healthy habit like jogging or substituting sodas with water and try to stick to it for a whole month.
- Educate yourself – Learn about the risk factors for heart disease, the ways you can prevent them, and the lifestyle choices that can help you stay healthy.
- Get your cholesterol tested – If you’re worried you might be at risk for heart disease, ask your doctor to perform a simple cholesterol test to let you know if you’re at risk and should make adjustments to your diet.
5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT HEART HEALTH
- Heart attacks can be silent
One in five heart attacks occurs without the person even knowing they had one.
- Heart attacks affect women differently
Women may experience different symptoms than men. These include pain in the back, arm, neck, or shoulder; nausea; fatigue; shortness of breath; and vomiting.
- Young women are at higher risk than men
Women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to die of a heart attack as men in the same age group.
- Another reason to hate Mondays
Heart attacks are more likely to occur on Monday mornings than on other days of the week. Scientists attribute this to the disruption in our circadian rhythm over the weekend which leads to increased blood pressure and other changes to the nervous system.
- Diet soda raises heart attack risk
If you drink one or more diet sodas a day, your chances of having a heart attack are 43% higher than those who drink regular soda or none at all.
WHY AMERICAN HEART MONTH IS IMPORTANT
- It reminds us to take care of our heart
American Heart Month motivates us to examine our own health habits and risks and take steps to improve our heart health.
- It promotes education about heart health
Knowing the risk factors for heart disease and how to reduce them can help people lead healthier lives and diminish their risk for heart attacks or other cardiovascular diseases.
- It raises awareness of heart disease
As the number one killer of Americans, heart disease is a slow-moving epidemic that affects almost everyone.
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