What better month to celebrate heart health than February; the month of Valentines, love and cupid!  It is not only the time for romance, chocolate and roses but also a time to remind us of the importance of heart health.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology Foundation (ACCF) reminds us that cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the #1 killer of women and men in the United States.  It is also the leading cause of disability, preventing a person from returning to work and engaging in meaningful activities. It is also costly with the United States spending $315.4 billion each year, in direct and indirect costs.

So what can we do to avoid becoming a CVD statistic? Many CVD deaths and complications can be prevented through healthier habits and improved management of hypertension, obesity and diabetes.

-Diet: Limit sodium, sugar and eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and high in fiber.
-Physical Activity: Surgeon General recommends to engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes per week: 21 minutes/day
-Tobacco use: Don’t start! If you do smoke, plan to quit. Talk to your health care provider about ways to help you quit.                                                                                -Obesity: Reality check! Know your BMI. Normal BMI is 18.5 – 24.9.                       -High Blood Pressure: Check this regularly. If it is greater than 140/90, you are at risk for developing CVD. If you have diabetes or Hispanic or African American, your risk is even greater.
-High Cholesterol: Individuals without clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) who are 40-75 years of age with LDL–C 70-189 mg/dl and have an estimated 10-year risk
of 7.5 % or greater should be placed on cholesterol lowering meds/statins.              -Diabetes: Know your numbers!  Fasting glucose greater than 126 mg/dl is a sign you could be pre-diabetic. 
-Limit Alcohol use: Alcohol can increase blood pressure and increase your risk for stroke. 

Work with your health care provider to determine your risk for CVD. You can start by using this link to calculate your 10-year-risk for CVD, but there is no substitute for a thorough health exam by a trained provider.

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