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Check Your Heart On Valentine’s Day

Let’s talk heart facts.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease.

Heart disease may be silent until a heart attack or a heart episode happens.

The most common cause of heart disease in both men and women is narrowing or blockage of the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart itself.

But there is good news. Lifestyle changes like managing blood pressure, exercising and eating healthier can prevent 80% of all heart problems.

Don’t have a stroke!

  • High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease.
  • Called the “silent killer,” high blood pressure can lead to a stroke by damaging and weakening the brain’s blood vessels, causing them to narrow, rupture or leak.
  • You can beat high blood pressure by knowing your numbers!
  • Keep your blood pressure under 120/80. High blood pressure doubles ­­­­– and may quadruple –your stroke risk if it’s left uncontrolled.

Lower your odds of a heart attack or stroke

Diet: Reduce salt and sugars.
Limit high-cholesterol foods (burgers, cheese, ice cream and junk food). Say hello to 4-5 cups of fruit and vegetables daily; one serving of fish two or three times a week; add more whole grains and choose low-fat dairy.

Exercise: Get 30 minutes of activity at least five times a week.

Smoking: Quit!

Alcohol: Drink moderately. (One glass of alcohol a day, or none)

Weight: Lose it. Even 10 pounds makes a difference.

Know the signs

A heart attack, also called a myocardial infarction, happens when a part of the heart muscle doesn’t get enough blood.

If you think you are having a heart attack, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible. The longer you go without treatment to restore blood flow, the greater the damage to the heart muscle.

Women are more likely than men to have heart attack symptoms other than only chest pain.

  • Neck, jaw, shoulder, upper back or abdominal discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual fatigue

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms or if you notice heart attack symptoms in yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Learn about your health risks

A thousand little things can affect your health without you even realizing it.

Regularly eating a poor diet and avoiding exercise can lead to high cholesterol.

Years of a stressful job or taking care of others without proper self-care can result in high blood pressure.

So many things, in fact, it’s hard to stay mindful of them all.

But once a week, for roughly 20 minutes or so, it’s a good idea to pause and consider how your lifestyle could be affecting your health, now and in the long term.

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