According to the American Heart Association (2018), an estimated 80% of cardiovascular disease are preventable, yet it remains to be the leading cause of death in the United States. It is never too late to start living a heart-healthy lifestyle. Understanding the health risks that contribute to heart disease is crucial to staying proactive about your health and taking preventative measures.
American Heart Month was organized by charities committed to bringing awareness to heart disease and is naturally celebrated in February.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention narrows down the top risk factors to be:
- High cholesterol – excess cholesterol can build up in the walls of arteries
- High blood pressure – damages the lining of the arteries
- Diabetes – high blood sugar from diabetes can damage blood vessels in the heart
- Smoking and secondhand smoke exposure – makes blood sticky and more likely to clot
- Obesity, unhealthy diet, and physical inactivity – the more you weigh, the harder your heart must work
According to the American Heart Association, different heart-healthy tips are recommended for each age group. For individuals aged 60 or older, it is recommended to get an ankle-brachial index test as part of your physical exam with your doctor, manage your weight as your body needs fewer calories as you get older, and learn the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke as symptoms in women can be different than men.
The goal of dedicating the month of February as American Heart Month is to motivate Americans to adopt heart-healthy lifestyles. Adopting these habits may prevent heart disease in the future giving Americans longer, fuller lives.
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