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February is American Heart Month! By Our February (Sadly, He is Leaving Us) Student, Paul Fina.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and roughly 600,000 people die of heart disease yearly–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths! About 935,000 people have a heart attack a year and 2 in every 3 is a person’s first heart attack.

Heart disease goes by many names including: coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, heart attacks, and more! As a set of chronic diseases, it’s important to identify if you’re at risk early on and to take action.

There are a number of risk factors for heart disease. They include: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight, diabetes, poor diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol use, and a family history of heart disease. Any of these risk factors increase the chance that you’ll have heart disease or a heart attack.

How to Identify Heart Disease

Many of the types of heart problems have similar warning signs which makes them difficult to differentiate.

  • Angina (Chest pain) – Any kind of discomfort, heaviness, pressure, aching, burning, fullness, squeezing or painful feeling in your chest. It can also be felt in your shoulders, arms, neck, throat, jaw, and back.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations – Irregular heartbeats that cause you to feel your heart beat in your chest.
  • Fast heart rate
  • Weakness or dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

Many of these symptoms are general and require an expert to diagnose and determine what you have. If you experience many of these and haven’t been diagnosed with heart disease, you should schedule a visit with your physician.

7 Steps for a Healthier Heart

If you’re at risk for heart disease, you should make some small changes to your current lifestyle. These 7 steps also come with some helpful tips, but only you can make these changes. Take ownership over your health and live a healthier life!

  • Exercise several times a week–150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Find a buddy who also wants to lose weight, so that there is mutual accountability.
  • Maintain a healthy diet – Stay out of the junk food aisles in grocery stores and focus on eating fresh foods, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Consume < 300mg of cholesterol daily.
  • Don’t smoke – Smoking decreases oxygen to the heart and can damage cells that make up your blood vessels.
  • Lose weight.
  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Aim for a fasting blood glucose of < 100mg/dL.

Eating healthier and exercising will help you to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, and lower your fasting blood glucose.

February 28, as American Heart Month ends, is my last day with Plain City Druggist. I just wanted to thank everyone who I met during the month for making my experience a great one. Thanks!

Paul Fina

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