By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: February 3, 2015
During the month of February, many Americans see the human heart as the symbol of love. We want to remind you that it is also Heart Health Month.
Learn about your risks for heart disease and stroke and stay “heart healthy” for yourself and your loved ones.
Understanding Cardiovascular disease (CVD)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure—is the number 1 killer of women and men in the United States.
It is a leading cause of disability, preventing Americans from working and enjoying family activities.
CVD does not affect all groups of people in the same way.
- Although the number of preventable deaths has declined in people aged 65 to 74 years, it has remained unchanged in people under age 65.
- Men are more than twice as likely as women to die from preventable CVD.
- Having a close relative who has heart disease puts you at higher risk for CVD.
- Health disparities based on geography also exist. For example, during 2007–2009, death rates due to heart disease were the highest in the South and lowest in the West.
Understand and Check your risk
First, get your blood cholesterol and blood pressure checked.
The higher either of them is, the greater your risk for heart disease or heart attack. Talk with your health care provider about your goals for total cholesterol, LDL, and HDL, as well as your target blood pressure.
Risk increases with age
The risk of heart attack & stroke increases with age, especially after menopause. However, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries), which can lead to heart attack and stroke, is a progressive disease that can begin as early as your 20s.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight increases blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Bringing your weight down to a healthy level, you’ll lower your cholesterol level and help your blood pressure. Also, loosing weight will make your body more sensitive to the effects of insulin. Losing 5 to 10% of your body weight can make a difference.