February is American Heart Month: Here’s What You Can Do

Most of us know someone who has suffered from a heart ailment of some sort, including stroke, heart attack or congenital defects. As the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, heart disease is prevalent across all communities.

As American Heart Month comes to a close, it’s important to reflect on the dangers of heart disease and learn what we can do to address it. Almost half of all Americans are at risk for heart disease, and that number is increasing.

Fortunately, research shows that with proactive monitoring and lifestyle changes, you can drastically reduce your risk of heart disease.

American Heart Month is especially important this year due to the impact of COVID-19 on the nation’s collective heart health. While in lockdown, many Americans have developed unhealthy habits, including poor diet, excessive alcohol consumption and little physical activity. All of these behaviors can contribute to heart disease.

With the promise of an end to the pandemic, 2021 is a great time to address heart health and reduce risk. Here’s what you can do right now.

1. Encourage healthy living to reduce your risk of heart disease.

If you know the risk factors for heart disease, you’re better equipped to prevent it. Spread the word about what causes heart disease and how you can prevent it.

  • Quit smoking: Nearly 20% of all cardiovascular disease deaths are caused by cigarette smoking, including e-cigarettes. Giving up smoking can significantly decrease your risk.
  • Weight management: When you’re overweight, you’re more likely to develop high blood pressure or diabetes, both of which can lead to heart disease.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: According to the Mayo Clinic, certain fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that can help prevent cardiovascular disease. Whole grains also play a positive role in promoting heart health and regulating blood pressure.
  • Stay active: Several forms of exercise, including aerobic and strength-building exercises, improve circulation and can reduce fat while decreasing unhealthy forms of cholesterol.

2. Learn to recognize risk factors.

In addition to developing healthy habits, it’s equally important to know how to recognize risk factors that can contribute to heart disease. These include high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol, and smoking. Other risk factors are outside of your control but should still be noted. If you’re 65 or older, you’re more likely to develop heart disease. A family history of heart issues can also increase your risk. Be sure to address this with your healthcare provider.

3. Schedule a health screening.

When left untreated, heart disease is particularly dangerous. If you have one or more risk factors for heart disease, bring it up with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s addressed. Schedule an in-person or virtual health consultation with Cameron Memorial Community Health by calling 260-665-2141 or using our online scheduler.

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