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Get Heart Smart and Healthy

February is known to be about hearts, but not just the kind Cupid aims for. It’s National Heart Month, and a great time to learn about taking the best care of your body’s most important muscle. Here are some important facts you might not know and tips you can use to keep your heart healthy:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Over time it can cause a heart attack, and many people are unaware of the warning signs—which can be rather mild. Chest pain or discomfort, pressure or squeezing, along with shortness of breath, and nausea, are all symptoms of heart attack. Although not everyone who has a heart attack experiences the same symptoms, it’s important to take notice and know what to look for in order to get proper help quickly.
  • Risk factors such as age and heredity cannot be changed, so be sure to see your doctor regularly and make sure they know your family’s history of heart problems.
  • Heart issues are often associated with men, when in fact 1 in 4 women have heart disease. Being overweight, a smoker, or inactive all contribute to heart disease. Luckily, you can prevent these risks by making good food choices, quitting smoking, and getting more exercise. While this can sound daunting, making small daily changes can go a long way: avoid adding salt to your food, gradually cut back on cigarettes, and make an effort to take a walk each day.
  • Diets that are high in fat can lead to elevated levels of cholesterol in your blood, which can cause heart complications by creating blockages in your arteries. There are medications to help with high cholesterol including statins, bile acid sequestrants, fibrates, and niacin. Each has potential side effects, so talk to your doctor to devise a plan for what will work best for you.

For more information on heart disease and other health matters wherever you are, check out the MedlinePlus mobile site.