February Is Heart Month

— Written By Jeannie Leonard and last updated by
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February is American Heart Month. Have you done anything to help take care of your heart this month? It is up to US to take control of the things that we can in our lifestyle to keep our ticker as healthy and strong as it can be! Some highlighted points from the Center for Disease Control reiterates the burden that is heart disease in America.

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
  • One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease. About 659,000 people in the United States die from heart disease each year—that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
  • Heart disease costs the United States about $363 billion each year from 2016 to 2017. This includes the cost of health care services, medicines, and lost productivity due to death. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing 360,900 people in 2019.
  • About 18.2 million adults age 20 and older have CAD (about 6.7%).
  • About 2 in 10 deaths from CAD happen in adults less than 65 years old.
  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds. Every year, about 805,000 people in the United States have a heart attack. Of these
    • 605,000 are a first heart attack
    • 200,000 happen to people who have already had a heart attack
    • About 1 in 5 heart attacks is silent—the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it.

Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Overweight and obesity
  •  Poor diet
  •  Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol use

As I mentioned above, of these are things we CAN control, so do what you can to take those matters into your own hands! Diet is a major contributing factor in heart disease prevention. A heart healthy diet is one that limits unhealthy fat, cholesterol, and sodium and encourages high fiber and heart healthy fats.

“What are the differences in types of fats?”…This is a question I receive a lot, and can be a very confusing one at that. There are three main types of fat found in foods:

  • Saturated fat (unhealthy)
  • Unsaturated fat (healthy)
  • Trans fat (unhealthy)

How can we limit the” bad” and increase the “good” in our diet?

  • Choose lean meats and leaner cuts of meat.
  •  Use 1/2 less fat in every recipe without changing flavor or texture.
  • Limit the sauces, dressings, and gravies on foods.
  • Make substitutions in recipes.
  • Reduce high-fat dairy products.
  • Use herbs and spices to enhance flavor, rather than added fat or salt.

It is never too late to start improving your health by changing your bad eating habits and increasing your physical activity. Something as simple as using less butter and not using margarine. Walking to your mailbox instead of driving your car to the mailbox. Take 3 10-minute walks. Every little step and eating change can make a big difference.