Women’s Health

I love my heart graphic

American Heart Month

It was 1963 when American Heart Month was first recognized to encourage Americans to fight heart disease. It is currently the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women – one in four deaths are caused by heart disease. Demographically, heart disease is leading cause of death in African Americans, Latinos and whites.

Although there are a number of kinds of heart disease including congenital heart disease, arrhythmia and high blood pressure, certainly coronary heart disease is the most prevalent. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that heart disease costs the United States about $200 billion annually in health care, medications, and lost productivity.

Your risk for coronary heart disease can be greatly reduced through changes in lifestyle. The most prevalent risk factors for heart disease (which can account for up to 90% of all heart attacks) include:

  • smoking
  • high cholesterol
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • abdominal obesity (“spare tire”)
  • stress
  • not eating many fruits and vegetables
  • excessive consumption of alcohol — more than one drink per day for women, or more than one or two drinks per day for men
  • not getting regular physical activity

The common thread among these risk factors is that they all can be managed in a way to reduce the risk of heart disease. Here are some changes you should consider:

  • Quit smoking
  • Lose weight
  • Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce your intake of salt
  • Walk as much as you can
  • Cut down on takeout and eating out; shop and cook more
  • Schedule an appointment with a doctor for a physical

Small steps to improve lifestyle choices add up. Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage health conditions. This American Heart Month, make changes to take care of yourself and share this information with your loved ones.