February Is American Heart Month

American Heart MonthDid you know that heart disease claims the lives of one in four Americans?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The good news is that one-fourth of all heart disease deaths are preventable and you can take proactive steps toward a healthy heart.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Heart Association (AHA) are striving to bring awareness by establishing February as American Heart Month.

According to the CDC and AHA, there are some practical steps you can take to ensure lasting heart health and reduce your risk for stroke or heart attack. These things include: Quitting smoking, getting a checkup, knowing your family history, reduce stressors and getting active with your favorite aerobic exercise (swimming, walking, cycling, jogging) for about an hour and a half over the course of a week. And if you’re super busy, you may also forgo the elevator, park farther away and take paths of a little more resistance! You can learn more at www.heart.org.    

And, of course, we can’t stress enough how crucial it is to make healthy food choices. Healthy food choices can decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.  
Choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and sodium. Make sure you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish, nuts, legumes and seeds. And consider mixing in proteins that don’t include meat, most notably, red meat. As far as dairy goes, choose lower fat.

Simple changes can make a big difference! Here are some ideas for getting started:

  • Talk to your doctor about ways to control high blood pressure
  • Add physical activity to your daily routine
  • Make heathy eating swaps, such as using fresh or dried herbs and spices instead of salt
  • Quit smoking

Know the Signs of a Heart Attack and Call 911:

According to the American Heart Association, signs of a heart attack can include:

  • Chest discomfort — heartburn and pressure
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body (one or both arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach)
  • Some women will feel abdominal pain or pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweat, nausea, lightheadedness
  • Feeling like an elephant is sitting on your chest