Hands holding a heart

February is a time to cherish your sweetheart, but this year, it’s important to prioritize your heart. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a coronary event happens every 25 seconds in the United States. Beginning in February 1964, the president annually issues a proclamation designating February as American Heart Month. Dr. Cameual Wright, medical director for CareSource Indiana, a nonprofit health plan, shares how you can prioritize your heart health this month.

Be Motivated to Transform

Each day, your heart pumps about 2,000 gallons of blood, making it the most important muscle in your body. In order for it to perform at its best, it needs to feel its best. If your heart doesn’t get the attention it deserves, serious heart problems can develop. Simple day-to-day changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutrient-rich diet, staying active and quitting smoking help to combat heart disease and stroke. These modifications will ensure your heart is in great working condition. 

Don’t Wait to Educate

Although many people develop a form of cardiovascular disease in their lifetime, it is preventable by taking the right actions. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the more education you have, the lower your risk of heart disease, so it’s never too early to begin learning how certain lifestyle choices affect heart health. Beginning this education at a young age goes a long way to preventing cardiovascular disease. 

Memorize Your Numbers

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. and is affected by two major factors: blood pressure and cholesterol. Doctors suggest that all adults receive an annual screening by their primary care provider to check their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Both high blood pressure and high cholesterol are called “silent killers” because they have no symptoms, so it’s vitally important to know what these numbers tell you about the condition of your health. If your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are too high, your risk of heart disease increases, but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and taking prescribed medications can help to lower these numbers. Talk to your provider to determine the best course of treatment for you. 

Recognize Your Risk

According to the CDC, about half of all Americans have at least one of three key risk factors for heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol or smoking. You will greatly improve your health by reducing these three risk factors. Your age and family history are genetic factors and may play a role in high blood pressure, heart disease and other related conditions.  

Speak Up

Not only should you use February to concentrate on your heart health, utilize this month to raise awareness of the shocking data behind heart disease. Heart disease is the number one killer of women, killing more women than all forms of cancer combined, and almost 80% of all cardiac events can be prevented, as maintained by the American Heart Association. Educate your family and friends, and encourage them to make sure their tickers are in top shape. 

To help take care of you and your heart, CareSource provides coverage for physical and mental health services. They can also provide you with transportation to remove barriers from getting proper health care. For more information, visit www.caresource.com

Dr. Cameual Wright is the CareSource Indiana medical director.

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