February is American Heart Month

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February is most known for “Black History Month” and Valentine’s Day.  However, it is also designated as the “American Heart Month”, which brings awareness to the importance and health risks of heart diseases.

Recently, President Barack Obama and the American Heart Association (AHA) celebrated 50 years of promoting February as the heart awareness month. February was first designated as the “Heart Month” by President Lyndon B. Johnson in his 1964 proclamation. President Obama emphasized the importance of individuals knowing the proper way to become aware of the symptoms and knowing how to have a healthy heart. He stated that, “cardiovascular disease is responsible for one out of every four deaths in the United States.”

According to the AHA, heart disease is the nation’s number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined. AHA states that, “one in three American adults has one or more types of cardiovascular disease (CVD).” Therefore, it is important for individuals to know the symptoms, warning signs and dietary measures to have a healthy heart and receive regular check-ups.

According to WebMD and AHA, there are different conditions of heart diseases, but the most dangerous ones and that the public is most aware of are a heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest. However, each heart disease has different symptoms and signs, but the most common ones, according to WebMD, is if one feels, “dizzy, weak, [has a] shortness of breath, fatigue, lack of energy, chest discomfort, rapid or irregular heartbeats, swelling of ankles or feet and [consistent] weight gain.”  If one is consistently having these symptoms and signs, AHA recommends making an appointment with their doctor as soon as possible.

AHA recommends these seven simple goals in order to limit heart disease:

•  Get active.
•  Control cholesterol.
•  Eat better.
•  Manage blood pressure.
•  Lose weight.
•  Reduce blood sugar.
•  Stop smoking.

AHA emphasizes that, “a healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons in the fight against heart disease.” Therefore, they advise for individuals to have dietary measures in their food and to follow the instructions of their nutrition center which are:

•  Fruits and vegetables (4.5 cups a day).
•  Fish (3.5 ounce servings a week).
•  Fiber-rich whole grains (at least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day).
•  Sodium (less than 1,500mg a day).
•  Sugar-sweetened beverages (no more than 450 calories a week).
•  Nuts, legumes and seeds  (4 servings a week).
•  Processed meats (2 servings a week).
•  Saturated fats (less than 70 percent of total energy intake).

For more information on the warning signs, symptoms and dietary measures, visit AHA’s website at www.heart.org.

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