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National Heart Awareness Month: Keep Your Heart Happy

February is National Heart Awareness Month, an annual event dedicated to raising awareness about the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States – heart disease – and ways to prevent it. Many national and local organizations recognize National Heart Awareness Month, and a number of doctors, hospitals, and imaging centers hold events that help you learn how to keep your heart happy.

More than 600,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which means heart disease causes about one in every four deaths in the nation each year.

National Heart Awareness Month helps raise awareness about these sobering statistics, and to bring attention to the fact that making certain lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of or even prevent death from heart disease.

Keep Your Heart Happy Throughout the Year

Three main factors increase your risk of developing heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Heart disease is common in the nation because nearly half of all Americans have one or more of these three risk factors for heart disease. Other factors, such as having diabetes, being overweight or obese, a poor diet, lack of exercise, and the use of alcohol, increase your risk of heart disease.

You can keep your heart happy by reducing your risk factors for heart disease. Monitor your blood pressure (BP) and cholesterol, and take BP and cholesterol medications as prescribed. Keep your blood sugar levels in check if you have diabetes.

Quit smoking if you do smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke. Lose weight, as the higher your body mass index (BMI), the greater your risk of heart disease.

Get 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or engage in 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week, as suggested by the American Heart Association.

Eat a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low-fat dairy, legumes, skinless poultry and fish. Reduce your intake of saturated fat, red meat, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Undergo preventive screening. Doctors now use advanced technology, such as the EBT C300 scanner, to assess your cardiac risk.

National Heart Awareness Month is a great time to schedule your doctor appointments and preventive screening. For more information about heart health and preventive screening, consult with Virtual Imaging today.