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Give Your Heart a Valentine

by Lori Sciame February 11th, 2011 | Diseases, Health Research, Heart Health
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This Valentine’s Day, show your heart some love. Since 1963, February has been known as “American Heart Month.” Since heart disease is America’s number one killer, it makes sense to make your heart a priority, not only this month, but every month of the year.

Overview
In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). In essence, heart disease touches all of our lives in some way, from losing loved ones… to being affected ourselves.

Hope Through Prevention
These are scary statistics; however, each of us can lower our risk of heart disease through preventative measures. The American Heart Association (AHA) has come out with a new program to help citizens make heart care a priority. “Life’s Simple 7” provides a blueprint for healthy heart living.

The AHA strongly suggests that people take the following steps:

1. Get Active.
2. Control Cholesterol.
3. Eat Better.
4. Manage Blood Pressure.
5. Lose Weight.
6. Reduce Blood Sugar.
7. Stop Smoking.

It is worth a visit to the AHA website to learn more about how to implement these simple seven steps into your life. Also, an interactive tool on the site can assess where you already stand concerning these important factors.

Women Need More Education
For years, the general public thought that only men suffered from heart disease. Not true. Women are at risk as well. Many national campaigns promote the issue for women, but “The Heart Truth” from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) is one of the best known.

A little red dress symbolizes the movement. Introduced in 2002, the dress reminds and inspires women to protect themselves. The NHLBI states, “The campaign’s goal is to give women a personal and urgent wakeup call about their risk of heart disease.” A sobering statistic from the organization supports the effort. Amazing as it may seem, one in four women in the United States dies from heart disease! Compare that to breast cancer deaths in women – one in 30.

Much like the AHA, the NHLBI offers ways to prevent this terrible disease. By doing just four things—eating right, being physically active, not smoking, and keeping a healthy weight, a woman can reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 82 percent.

“The Heart Truth” website provides plenty of additional information. Check it out here. You’ll find enlightening facts such as that, “the most common cause of heart disease is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself.”

Visit Your Medical Provider Regularly
Common sense also tells us that in order to love our hearts, we must visit a health care provider. Health screenings such as blood pressure and cholesterol checks need to be completed on a regular basis. Doctors/nurses can also give useful advice on losing weight and quitting smoking. Loving your heart means finding a health care provider you want to visit annually.

Three Ways to Show Your Heart “Love” Today

1. Eat a piece of fresh fruit.
2. Increase your activity level – take the stairs, park farther from the entrance at work or at a store.
3. Stop smoking – if you don’t smoke, stay away from second-hand smoke.

A Love Letter to Your Heart
Long associated with love, hearts need special care too. This February, make a vow to learn more about heart disease and how you can prevent it. By changing a few things about you and how you live your life, you can improve your chances of being around a long time for the ones you love.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.