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National Heart Month (February)

February is National Heart Month. Coronary heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and Stroke is the number 3 killer of Americans. The American Heart Association recommends that heart attack prevention begin by age 20. If you are over 40, or have multiple risk factors, it's important to calculate the risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the next 10 years. It's essential that you measure your risk of heart disease and make a plan for how to prevent it in the near future.

Learn the basic ABC's of prevention: Avoid Tobacco, Be More Active and Choose Good Nutrition. You can reduce all the modifiable risk factors for heart disease, heart attack and stroke by following these three steps.

The important risk factors you can control or treat include:

  • smoking
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood cholesterol
  • diabetes
  • being overweight or obese
  • physical inactivity

Is your number up? Do your know your Cholesterol, LDL (Bad Cholesterol), HDL (Good Cholesterol), Triglycerides, Blood Pressure, Fasting Glucose, Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference? If you don't; get it tested. Do you know the proper ranges of these numbers? If not, learn them.

Know the warning signs of a heart attack. Some are sudden and intense, but most start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Get help if you have any chest discomfort. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Be aware that you might have discomfort in another part of your body: arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach. Other signs include shortness of breath, cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. Remember that sometimes women's symptoms can be different that men. Know what is different for you and if in doubt, get it checked out.

Some information was obtained from the American Heart Association website at

Information provided by Dana H. Breeding, RN Health Educator from Community Wellness, at Augusta Health. To contact her related to the above information, please call 332-4988 or 932-4988.