3 February 2011

American Heart Month!

With all our preparations for Valentine’s Day in the month of February we often see hearts everywhere.  Heart-shaped balloons, boxes of chocolate, little candy hearts, and just about any imaginable stuffed animal holding (you guessed it) a heart! With all of these hearts decorating our world, it’s only fitting that February is American Heart Month! There are lots of things we can do to stay heart healthy and recognize the disease that kills over 600,000 Americans each year.  According to the CDC, about every 25 seconds an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one.

But we can do lots to stay healthy.  For starters, you can  boost your knowledge of the signs and symptoms of a coronary event.  Here are some signs and symptoms that mean a heart attack is happening according to the CDC:

  • Chest discomfort: This can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain that lasts for a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body: This can include pain in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath: This may occur with or without chest pain.

Making healthy lifestyle choices is also key to preventing Heart Disease.  Here are some suggestions provided by the CDC:

  • Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.
  • Select fat-free, 1% fat, and low-fat dairy products.
  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.
  • Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day.
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
  • Select and purchase foods lower in salt/sodium.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
  • Keep an eye on your portion sizes.

Women and Heart Disease

  • Although many people consider heart disease a “man’s disease”, it is actually the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., and women account for nearly 50% of heart disease deaths.
  • In 2007 306,246 women died of heart disease.
  • Although we often associate heart disease with older women, it is the third leading cause of death in women aged 25-44.

As with all diseases, prevention is key to survival.  To learn more about heart disease prevention, nutrition tips, and fact sheets check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s site.

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