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Happy American Heart Month!

February is all about the heart…and I’m not just talking about love and Valentine’s Day! It is American Heart Month. It’s a month dedicated to staying informed on heart related illnesses and how to prevent them.

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. The term “heart disease” refers to several different types of heart conditions. The most common heart condition in the United States is coronary heart disease. This occurs when a substance called plaque builds up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart and restricts normal blood flow.

Coronary heart disease can cause a heart attack, angina, heart failure, and arrhythmias. Heart attacks claim about 715,000 lives each year. About 600,000 people die from heart disease alone in the United States each year. That’s 1 out of every 4 deaths! Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, costs the United States $312.6 billion each year. This total includes the cost of health care treatment and medication.

Sounds scary, right? But don’t worry too much. There’s good news. Heart disease is preventable and controllable with a few easy steps.

Eating a healthy diet can help you avoid heart disease. Like your mother always told you, 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily does your body good…especially your heart! Opt for foods that are low in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, and high in fiber to prevent high cholesterol.

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for heart disease, so be sure to maintain a healthy weight. Get your BMI checked at a medical clinic, doctor’s office or pharmacy. You can even get an estimate of your BMI online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm. It is important to know your BMI and weight to determine if you are in a healthy range.

Get your heart healthy, and fit back in your skinny jeans! Exercising regularly can help you maintain a healthy weight, while also lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. The Surgeon General recommends that adults should engage in moderately intensive exercise at least 30 minutes most days of the week.

Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, so be sure to have it checked on a regular basis. Check your local pharmacy for a blood pressure monitor.

Our staff is doing a couple of things to raise awareness for heart disease. This Friday, February 14, we are supporting the American Heart Association. We will be donating to the cause and wearing red to raise awareness. Our goal is to inform our patients about the dangers of cardiac problems. Our staff will also be donating blood later in the month to a local blood bank during March.

A healthy heart makes for a happy life! Support American Heart Health month!

This blog was written by Dr. Douglas Mehaffie

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