February Is American Heart Month

february heart monthHeart disease is a leading cause of death for both men and women in Virginia. The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD). A key part of Virginia’s Plan for Well-Being focuses on preventive actions that keep Virginians active and healthy, and the good news is that most heart disease and its complications are completely preventable by making healthy choices and knowing your risk factors.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. If you have high blood pressure, manage it by going to your health care provider for regular visits, taking your prescribed medication, and monitoring your blood pressure at home.

One of the greatest concerns with heart disease, especially CAD, is having a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when a part of the heart muscle dies or gets damaged due to reduced blood supply. If you know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack you are more likely to survive.

The four major symptoms of a heart attack are:

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, back, arm, or shoulders
  • Feeling weak, light-headed, or faint
  • General chest pain or discomfort
  • Shortness of breath

If you or a loved one have any of these symptoms call 9-1-1 immediately and get to the hospital quickly. Making healthy lifestyle choices after a heart attack can reduce the risk of future heart attacks.

If you make healthy lifestyle choices, you can prevent heart disease and its complications. Make a promise to yourself to:

  • Choose heart healthy meals
  • Limit salt and sodium intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight and learn your body mass index (BMI)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Breathe clean air (don’t smoke) and limit alcohol use

It is easy to keep your heart healthy, so this Valentine’s Day give your loved ones the gift of a healthy and happy heart!