February is American Heart Month

Published February 15, 2018 by

Each day, nearly 2,300 Americans die due to complications of cardiovascular disease. Globally, this number of deaths can reach more than 18 million annually, and continues to increase year over year. As a federally designated month in the United States, American Heart Month helps to shine a light on preventative health measures everyone can take to decrease this number. With heart disease as the leading cause of death for both men and women, it’s important to take even the smallest of steps to make a large impact. 

hands holding a fake heart with a stethoscope next to itThe goal of American Heart Month is to ensure that people are not only knowledgeable about the disease itself, but also the methods of prevention and resources available. 

What is Heart Disease?

Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, can be used to describe a wide range of conditions that directly affect the heart. While there are certainly some types of heart disease that are hereditary, there are a number that can be treated by simply developing a healthy lifestyle. Some of the conditions include: 

  • Coronary artery disease 
  • Heart arrhythmias
  • Blood vessel diseases
  • Heart attack

Thought heart disease and cardiovascular disease can be used interchangeably, cardiovascular most often refers to conditions that involved narrowed blood vessels and generally lead to heart attack or stroke. 

What are symptoms of Heart Disease?

Because there are a number of different types of heart disease, the symptoms can range based on the type of disease. However, the most common symptoms can include: 

  • Discomfort in the chest (pain, tightness, pressure)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or numbness in areas where blood vessels are located (arms, legs)
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness (or in more severe cases, fainting)
  • A change in heartbeat
  • Fatigue

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or feel that you are experiencing some sort of issue related to heart disease, contact your DOCTOR immediately. 

How can I prevent Heart Disease?

Throughout the year, it’s important to alter your daily routine to include healthy alternatives, or rid yourself of habits that may contribute to heart disease.

While some diseases may be hereditary or are out of your control, most heart diseases are easily prevented. The most common methods of prevention include: 

  • Stop smoking; as one of the most common risk factors, this is an important first step. 
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes to an hour each day; this can be as simple as a light walk or jog.
  • Maintain a low sodium diet that’s rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. 
  • Control cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, and any other factors that may contribute. 

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