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Why National Heart Health Month Should Matter to You

February is National Heart Health Month, which is dedicated to spreading awareness and encouraging people to prioritize their cardiovascular health.

Information for this blog is derived from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Did you know cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, are the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States? In this blog, we're going to break down why National Heart Health Month is important for everyone, including you.

A Big Toll on Health

Cardiovascular disease is a health problem across the globe. Around 17.3 million lives are lost to cardiovascular disease each year. Cardiovascular (heart) disease includes health conditions like coronary artery disease (CAD), acute coronary syndrome, heart failure, and heart attacks. You can learn more about other conditions related to heart disease here. Here are a few statistics to give you a better idea of how prevalent cardiovascular disease is:

  • About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing 365,914 people in 2017.
  • About 18.2 million adults age 20 and older have CAD (about 6.7%).
  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
  • Every year, about 805,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these,
    • 605,000 are a first heart attack.
    • 200,000 of these heart attacks happen to people who have had a heart attack before.
    • About 1 in 5 heart attacks is silent, meaning the person isn't aware of the damage done to their heart.

Cardiovascular disease

Risk, Symptoms & Signs to Look Out For

It's important that people understand the risk, symptoms, and signs of heart disease. This can be the difference between life and death. Anyone can develop heart disease, including children. Individuals can be more prone to heart disease if they have one or more of the following key risks:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking

Several other conditions can put you at risk for heart disease as well:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

For many people, the first symptom of heart disease is chest pain, or a heart attack. While symptoms vary depending on the heart disease or condition, the following should be noted:

  • Chest pain or discomfort that doesn't go away after a few minutes
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back.
  • Weakness, light-headedness, nausea, or a cold sweat.
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulders.
  • Shortness of breath.

What You Can Do

Heart disease is preventable. There are ways you can help reduce your risk of developing heart disease. You should speak with your medical provider about your heart health and if you are at risk, especially if you have a family history of heart disease. Help minimize your risk by doing the following:

  1. Have a primary care provider. If you don't have one already, you can schedule an appointment with Apicha CHC and get started.
  2. Know your blood pressure. It's important to know if you have high blood pressure, which is a key risk for heart disease. There are no symptoms for high blood pressure, so make sure you get your blood pressure regularly checked by your medical provider.
  3. Get tested for diabetes. As another risk factor, it's important to get tested or screened for diabetes.
  4. Quit smoking. Smoking is a key risk for heart disease. If you need help quitting smoking, you can check out our guide here.
  5. Get checked for high cholesterol. It's important to check your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Talk to your provider about getting a blood test done.
  6. Eat healthy food. Having a balanced diet can help reduce your risk. Talk to your provider about seeing a nutritionist, or schedule one with Apicha CHC's registered dietician.
  7. Keep your stress levels in check. Reducing stress can help reduce your risk of a heart attack and heart disease. Consider exercise, meditation, or therapy to help you.
  8. Limit your alcohol consumption.