The month of February brings more than chocolate covered strawberries and red roses. The American Heart Association has designated this month as American Heart Month. Their goal is to raise awareness about cardiovascular diseases, which happen to be the nation’s #1 killer. About every 25 seconds, someone in America has a coronary event such as a heart attack or stroke. Every minute, someone dies from it.
Know your risks: You may be at an elevated risk for heart disease if you are overweight, smoke, have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. It is also important to know your family history of heart disease, which could also increase your risk.
Signs and symptoms: Signs that a heart attack is happening include chest pain, shortness of breath, and discomfort in the jaw, neck, or arms. Often times these symptoms are accompanied by nausea, lightheadedness, and cold sweats.
Reduce your risk: Adopt a healthy lifestyle before it’s too late. Reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet, which often come from animal sources such as high fat dairy products and meat. Avoid adding unnecessary salt (sodium) and sugar to foods. Opt for a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats such as omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, flax, and olive oil. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.