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February Spotlights the Most Important Heart of All: Yours

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February Spotlights the Most Important Heart of All: Yours

The dreariness of February is lightened somewhat by that special
day – the 14th – so beloved for its chocolates, roses and
pronouncements of love. But before you bite into that delicious heart-shaped
chocolate on Valentine’s Day take a moment to consider this somber fact: Heart disease is the number one killer of
men and women in this country
. And, men die younger and in greater numbers than
women, which is why MHN is spotlighting heart health this February, a month
that is typically dedicated to everything heart-shaped.

But the news is not all bad. In fact, the good news is that
heart health is largely in your control. First, put down that heart-shaped
chocolate. Numerous studies have shown that a diet consisting primarily of
fruits, vegetables and lean protein play a significant role in promoting heart
health. Unfortunately, those Valentine’s chocolates are not part of that heathy
diet. Foods such as chocolate, butter and red meat contain trans fats and
saturated fats that can clog arteries and raise cholesterol levels.

However, diet alone will not reduce the risk of cardiovascular
disease. The nation’s Center for Disease Control (CDC) points to other factors
that put Americans at a higher risk for heart disease including smoking,
excessive alcohol use and physical inactivity. CDC underscores heart disease as
the leading cause of death for men in the United States, causing about 1 in
every 4 male deaths. The Center highlights other ways to prevent heart disease
including regular visits to health care providers to check blood pressure and
cholesterol levels. Uncontrolled blood pressure and high LDL cholesterol levels
can result in heart disease, so screening is important. Health care providers
should also test for diabetes which is another culprit in raising the risk of
heart disease.

Finally, researchers and health care providers are paying
more attention to stress as a factor in cardiovascular health. While the role
stress plays in heart health is not clear the American Heart Association (AHA) states
that “stress may affect behaviors and factors that increase heart disease risk:
high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, smoking, physical inactivity and overeating.”

Addressing these concerns is apparently a matter of life and
death for almost half of all Americans who – according to CDC – have at least
one of these risk factors. So, this February as you are perusing grocery store
aisles filled with heart-shaped chocolates and bottles of wine take a moment to
consider the most important Valentine’s gift of all – your own heart health. Happy
Valentine’s Day and Happy National Heart Health Awareness Month!

Photo
by freestocks.org
 on Unsplash

Author: Anne Holloway

Anne Holloway is an experienced government relations executive with a demonstrated history of working successfully in legislative and regulatory areas of the consumer goods industry. Anne is skilled in public affairs, grassroots organizing, event planning and government. She has exceptional writing and communication skills with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) focused on writing from Denison University. A former Vice President of Government Affairs with a trade association, Anne also worked as a Legislative Director for a Member of Congress. Creator of BreadandMother.com a food blog featuring a variety of culinary musings, Anne authored two books, View from a Train and Fear of Heights.



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