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A Heart Healthy Focus: February is American Heart Month

February 28, 2014

She's out there - the woman who has stolen your heart and makes your life better just because she's in it. It may be your mom, your sister, your wife or your girlfriend. It could be your daughter, your aunt, or your best friend. And this woman you love has an enemy more deadly than all forms of cancer. This woman you love is in a battle against heart disease and she may not even know it.

Although long thought of as primarily a threat to men, according to the American Heart Association, heart disease is now the number one killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths each year.
 That's approximately one woman every minute.b

That’s someone’s mom, sister, wife, or girlfriend. That’s someone’s daughter, aunt, or best friend.
 In addition, heart disease is a leading cause of disability, which impacts the lives of countless families nationwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the annual tab cardiovascular disease exacts on this nation is over $300 billion, including the cost of heath care services, medication, and lost productivity.

To fight and win the battle for heart heath, you need to know your risk factors and the steps for preventative maintenance regardless of your heredity. For instance, women with a close relative with heart disease carry a higher risk for developing the disease. Race and ethnicity also play a factor for both sexes, as African Americans have the largest age-adjusted death rates due to heart disease and stroke.

While there are things you can’t control, the list of the things in your power is longer. And that’s great news.

You can control your risk through eating a balanced diet; engaging in moderate physical activity as little as three times per week; maintaining a healthy weight; monitoring known health issues, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes; getting regular check ups; and avoiding smoking. These are simple life-saving steps that everyone can take. It may require discipline and shifts in habits and lifestyle. It may even require some accountability and support from those you love or structured help from heath care providers, but simple steps reap big dividends in matters of the heart.

Show your heart the love it deserves by taking care of your ticker, and show the women in your life how much they are loved by reminding them to do the same.

It seems fitting that February, a month in which matters of the heart take center stage, is American Heart Month in recognition of the ongoing battle against heart disease. So guard your precious heart. Put up a valiant fight against this killer. Do everything you can to keep your heart beating strong and healthy for those you love and those who love you.