February is National Heart Month, Know Your Heart Facts and Lower Your Risks

Black tonometer and heart isolated on whiteEvery February Americans are reminded of the importance of taking care of their hearts, and with good reason. Over 1.5 million of us will experience heart attacks and strokes this year, nearly 8 million people in the U.S. have had a heart attack, and nearly 800,000 Americans will die from cardiovascular disease this year.

Heart attack and strokes are at the top of the list among the most costly problems facing healthcare today,  accounting for over 312 billion dollars annually with costs rising. Families and individuals who face this disease struggle not only with medical bills but also costly rehabilitation, missed time from work, and often times chronic health issues for life. There are numerous risks factors for cardiovascular disease, many of them preventable. Taking appropriate steps to prevent this killer must be your priority.

What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease? (From WebMD)

There are several risk factors for heart disease; some are controllable, others are not.

Uncontrollable risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Male sex, although more women die of heart disease than men
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Post-menopausal
  • Race (African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans are more likely to have      heart disease than Caucasians).

Still, there are many heart disease risk factors that can be controlled. By making changes in your lifestyle, you can actually reduce your risk for heart disease.

Controllable risk factors include:

  • High LDL, or “bad” and low HDL, or “good” cholesterol
  • Uncontrolled hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity (more than 20% over one’s ideal body weight)
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High C – reactive protein
  • Uncontrolled stress and anger