February is American Heart Month, and we at the Pauley Agency would like to help spread awareness. The leading cause of death for men and women in the United States each year is heart disease. There are several forms of heart disease, the most common of which is coronary artery disease. It can occur when fatty deposits called plaque build up in your arteries, narrowing them over time and reducing blood flow to the heart. Risk factors for this deadly disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight, excessive alcohol use, and smoking.
Coronary artery disease can often go undiagnosed until a person experiences symptoms of heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia. Symptoms may include1:
Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.
What can you do to lower your risk of Heart Disease? Be sure to maintain a healthy diet, manage stress, get plenty of sleep, and exercise at least 3 times a week. If a rigorous workout at the gym is not your cup of tea, going for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood is more than enough to increase your physical activity.
When considering your diet, make sure to emphasize2:
- a variety of fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- low-fat dairy products
- skinless poultry and fish
- nuts and legumes
- non-tropical vegetable oils
Limit the following:
- Saturated Fat
- Trans Fat
- Red Meat
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
If you want more information on having a heart-healthy diet click here.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Underlying Cause of Death, 1999–2018. CDC WONDER Online Database. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2018.