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February is National Heart Month

“Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.” -CDC

The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often goes unnoticed until it manifests itself as a heart attack. In fact, every 25 seconds, an American will suffer a coronary event and about one every minute will die from such an event. These astounding numbers is why the month of February is dedicated to heart health awareness.

Let’s Take It from the Top

Heart disease, or cardiovascular disease, is an overarching term used to describe a number of problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries. The plaque buildup slowly narrows arteries making it more and more difficult for blood to flow—creating a risk for heart attack or stroke. Other varieties of heart disease include heart failure, an irregular heartbeat—or arrhythmia—and heart valve problems.

While some of these conditions are genetic, the threat for other conditions can be modified by controlling risk factors associated with heart disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and secondhand smoke.

Lifestyle Modification

According to the American Heart Association, there are seven simple steps to improving one’s health and decreasing the chances of heart disease:

• Get active
• Eat better
• Lose weight
• Stop smoking
• Control cholesterol
• Manage blood pressure
• Reduce blood sugar

The exciting part is that these changes are inexpensive and even modest improvements can make a huge difference. Check out the AHA’s interactive program and get your heart assessment.

The best lifestyle modification is not having to do any modification; so practice healthy habits with your children from a young age to create healthy adults. Family schedules are busy, but be sure your kids are getting the recommended amounts of physical activity. Serve healthy meals and teach your children the importance of good nutrition. As they grow, help them develop successful stress management techniques that they can carry into adulthood. Finally, secondhand smoke can be just as detrimental as smoking, so for the sake of your children, raise them in a smoke free home.

Go Red for Women

American Heart Month 2012 has placed special emphasis on women’s health with a series of Go Red for Women events. Heart disease and stroke are the number one and number three killers of women in the United States. It’s estimated that one in 2.4 women lose their lives to these diseases—breast cancer kills one in 29 for comparison. The campaign gives women tips and information on risk factor reduction. National Wear Red Day is February 3rd, 2012 so wear red, set up a fundraising project, and show support for the women in your life!

About the Author

Guest author Maggie, is a writer for the Affordable Style Network, specializing in discount reading glasses, handbags, scarves, sunglasses, and other accessories. With an educational background in health and science, she enjoys sharing her medical knowledge and love of wellness with others. One such project included the Eye Health Guide, a resource for all things vision related. Outside of work, Maggie enjoys running, traveling, trying new restaurants, and concert-going.

*Image: vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*