February is American Heart Health Month
Now is the time to evaluate your heart health habits and make adjustments to stay healthy
February was established as American Heart Month in 1964. Each year, the month serves as a reminder to focus on our hearts and encourage heart health among our families, friends and communities. At Staunton Primary Care, we don’t want to just use this month to create awareness — we also want to equip you with the knowledge you need for a heart healthy life.
Facts about heart health
- One in four deaths are caused by heart disease. This makes heart disease more deadly than all of the cancers combined.
- 790,000 people in the US have heart attacks each year. Of those, about 114,000 will die.
- Only 27% of people can identify the major symptoms of a heart attack. These include chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, lightheadedness, cold sweats, and discomfort in the arms back, neck, jaw or upper stomach.
- Heart disease can happen at any age. While 82% of people who die of heart disease are older than 65, those with a family history can experience problems much earlier.
- The American Heart Association lists smoking, physical inactivity, nutrition, being overweight or obese, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes mellitus as the largest risk factors for heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular disease
Steps you can take this month to help prevent heart disease
If there is one good thing about heart disease, it’s that heart disease is largely preventable. High blood pressure is often called “the silent killer,” due to the millions that have it, but are unaware they do. Here are some steps you can take to better your heart health.
- Exercise. Try taking walks in 15- to 30-minute intervals. Many cities also have walks in February to promote heart health. Aerobic exercise and lifting weights are great for the cardiovascular system.
- Healthy diet. There are many delicious foods that can help your heart. Particularly, there are many fats that have heart health benefits. If you want to start eating better for your heart, cutting sodium is a great place to start. Try replacing the salt in your recipes with other herbs or spices to enhance flavor.
- Quit smoking. According to the American Heart Association, one in six men and one in seven women are smokers. While the damage caused by smoking is not entirely reversible, your body can quickly become much healthier with smoking cessation. In just one year, risk for coronary artery disease diminishes to half of that of a smoker’s. Within five to 15 years, stroke risk is reduced to that of a non-smoker. After 15 years, risk of coronary artery disease is reduced to that of a non-smoker’s.
- Schedule a visit with your provider to talk about your heart health. The best way to understand any improvements you may need is to talk to your provider. From measuring your blood pressure to discussing family history, you’ll gain a solid understanding of your heart disease risk. If you haven’t scheduled your annual appointment this year, you can visit https://stauntonprimarycare.com/ or call 513-685-8853 to schedule an appointment.