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February is American Heart Month. Are you at Risk? | Arts & Culture

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February is American Heart Month. Are you at Risk?
February is American Heart Month. Are you at Risk?

Did you know that cardiovascular disease (CVD) – including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure – is the #1 killer of women AND men in the United States. It is the leading case of disability, and costs the US over $300 billion annually.1

Many risk factors are involved with CVD, some are controllable while others are not. Because of genetics and family history, even race and ethnicity, we are not affected by CVD the same. Geography plays a part in the healthy or risky lifestyles that are encouraged or accepted in our surroundings. That said, controlling the risk factors we can, makes a huge difference and positive impact on our lives.

A few pointers on getting yourself on track with your health and keeping yourself on the right path.

  1. Get checked out! This cannot be emphasized enough as high blood pressure is often considered the silent killer. Many people only know they have high blood pressure aftermuch damage has been done.
  2. Take it ONE step at a time. Going cold turkey of all your unhealthy habits are once can be daunting and potentially an impossible challenge. Make a list of what you need to change and mark them by importanceand where you think you can succeed quickest. Check them off one by one.
  3. Don’t let set-backs mean stop. Sure, we all have days when we wish we didn’t have that extra piece of cake, or perhaps you are trying to stop smoking and simply could not resist the urge after lunch. Set backs are life’s way of helping us improve. Determine what made you falter and avoid that situation next time. Forward, not back, always.
  4. Help someone else, and find a heart healthy buddy at the same time. Doing most things alone can be difficult, and encouragement is a must when trying to implement a lifestyle change.
  5. Congratulate yourself, and your buddy. Even small milestones are steps in the right direction. Be sure to treat yourself to something when meet your goals and give yourself a pat on the back.

2014 is the 50th anniversary of American Heart Month. Don’t let another year go by without knowing your risks, being prepared to make changes, and planning your new lifestyle. Best of luck! Go RED!

1. Obtained from the article “February is American heart Month” on the website, cdc.gov/features/heartmonth.

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