February isn’t just the month we celebrate love and romance; it is also the month we are reminded how important it is to take care of our hearts.
Our hearts are one of the most important organs in our bodies. It’s something we simply can’t live without. While the history of National Heart Month only dates back to 1964, several programs have been created to help educate the public, including “Go Red for Women.”
Heart disease was once considered to be an “old man’s disease.” But that is no longer the case. The American Heart Association (AHA) reported in 2004 that cardiovascular disease alone killed 500,000 women in the US, and as a result, launched the “Go Red for Women” campaign. Since then, the campaign has provided a platform that encourages women to encourage and support each other.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 630,000 Americans die each year from heart disease, which makes it the No. 1 killer of both men and women.
The CDC estimates heart disease costs the United States approximately $200 billion each year. The sum of health care costs, medications and lost productivity results in a huge net financial impact to the country, not to mention the social toll.
The risk for heart disease increases if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, if you smoke, have diabetes, are overweight, eat a high fat diet, or live a sedentary lifestyle.
According to the CDC, most people think the only symptoms of a heart attack are chest pains and pain in the left arm. However, lesser known symptoms include shortness of breath, nausea, cold sweats, and upper body pain and discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
There are certain things you can do to prevent heart disease, or at least lower your risks. Eating healthier foods is a good start. Instead of eating at fast food restaurants, have a fresh salad, fish, or lean meat with vegetables.
According to the CDC, quitting smoking, drinking in moderation, and exercising every day are other ways to reduce your risks for heart disease.
For more information about heart disease and its prevention, visit cdc.gov.