February is heart month. The American Heart Association, joined by others across the United States places special emphasis on stopping heart disease and lowering risk for all Americans. The battle is far from over as Heart Disease remains the number 1 killer of men and women.
Here are some statistics:
About 600,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year–that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.1
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. More than half of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were in men.1
Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing more than 385,000 people annually.1
Every year about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 610,000 are a first heart attack. 325,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack.2
Coronary heart disease alone costs the United States $108.9 billion each year.3 This total includes the cost of health care services, medications, and lost productivity. 
Part of stopping this disease from happening to you is to know your risk factors. Some can be controlled others cannot. Below is a list of Risk Factors from the American Heart Association:
High blood pressure is the single most significant risk factor for heart disease. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
Cholesterol– too much bad cholesterol (LDL), can combine with white blood cells and form plaque in your veins and arteries. This will eventually lead to heart attack and stroke. Cholesterol levels at 200 mg/dL or higher is considered too high and needs to be dealt with. Cholesterol can easily be changed through diet and exercise.
Smoking is one of our nation’s top causes of early death, but your lungs can begin to heal as soon as you quit. The best advice for smokers is to stop.
An Inactive Lifestyle– is a risk factor for coronary heart disease. Regular, moderate-to-vigorous physical activity helps prevent heart and blood vessel disease.
Obesity– people who are overweight and especially those who have fat around the waist (belly fat) are more likely to have heart attacks. While losing all your weight may take time don’t get discouraged. Losing just 10% from your current weight, you can lower your heart disease risk.
Diabetes– Diabetes increases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Even if your glucose levels are under control, diabetes increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. The risks are even greater if blood sugar is not well controlled. At least 65% of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.
Other contributing factors you cannot control:
Increasing Age– 82 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older
Gender– Men have the highest rate of heart disease. More than one in three adult men have some sort of heart disease and more than 390,000 men died of the killer in 2007, according to the American Heart Association.
Heredity- “African Americans have more severe high blood pressure than Caucasians and a higher risk of heart disease. Heart disease risk is also higher among Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans. This is partly due to higher rates of obesity and diabetes. Most people with a strong family history of heart disease have one or more other risk factors.”
Finally many people do not realize that women and children are affected by heart disease. Children can start developing heart disease early in life and women can have heart disease and not even know it. It is important that everyone knows this and that they are aware of why this disease continues to be our number 1 killer.
Women need to be aware of heart disease. Heart Disease kills more women than diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and lung cancer combined. In the United States, a woman suffers a heart attack ever 90 seconds.
“Heart disease can begin early, even in the teen years, and women in their 20s and 30s need to take action to reduce their risk of developing heart disease. Yet among U.S. women ages 18 and older, 17.3 percent are current smokers, 51.6 are overweight (BMI of 25 or greater), 27 percent have hypertension, 35 percent have high cholesterol, and 53 percent do not meet physical activity recommendations. African American and Hispanic women, in particular, have higher rates of some risk factors for heart disease and are disproportionately affected by the disease compared to white women. More than 80 percent of midlife African American women are overweight or obese, 52 percent have hypertension, and 14 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes. Some 83 percent of midlife Hispanic women are overweight or obese, and more than 10 percent have been diagnosed with diabetes.”
Women who smoke cigarettes may more than double a woman’s risk of sudden cardiac death. But quitting can reduce that risk significantly over time, according to a new study. Sudden Cardiac Death is the leading cause of heart-related deaths in the U.S. and is responsible for up to 400,000 deaths per year.
Researchers found that women who were current smokers were two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer sudden cardiac death than nonsmokers. The risk of sudden cardiac death was even higher among heavy and lifetime smokers.
Researchers found the amount and duration of cigarette smoking was strongly associated with the women’s risk of sudden cardiac death.
Overall, the study showed:
The risk of sudden cardiac death increased by 8% for every five years a woman smoked.
Heavy smokers who smoked 25 cigarettes a day or more had more than three times the risk of sudden cardiac death than women who didn’t smoke.
Women who smoked for more than 35 years had a 2.5 times higher risk of sudden cardiac death than never smokers.
The American Heart Association has predicted that this generation of children will experience a shorter lifespan because of obesity.
Selling health to your children may not be easy at first. Parents need to set examples by turning off the television, computer, etc… and spending time outside playing with your children. Get your kids involved in meal planning and picking out healthy foods. Consider replacing white bread with whole grain or wheat bread. Add a banana to their cereal or other fresh fruit. Substitute water instead of canned drinks or powdered drinks.
Read the labels on food and make sure that what you are choosing is the best option. Choose healthy snacks for your children. Encourage your children; don’t make play always about winning make it fun instead. Have a family night where you play board games or do things that are fun together. Remember walking at the zoo or a museum is still going to burn calories and give you exercise and many communities have parks and places where you can play for free if you are in a limited area.
To Learn More About Your Risk Click On The Link Below To The American Heart Association Simple 7 Action Plan:
 Heart Disease Facts, America’s Heart Disease Burden. CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm
Life’s Simple 7. American Heart Association. http://mylifecheck.heart.org/Multitab.aspx?NavID=3&CultureCode=en-US
 Understand Your Risk of Heart Attack. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/UnderstandYourRiskofHeartAttack/Understand-Your-Risk-of-Heart-Attack_UCM_002040_Article.jsp
 Sebelius, Katherine, More Than Valentine’s Day Taking Care of Our Hearts. Feb. 4th, 2013. Health Care. Gov. http://www.healthcare.gov/blog/2013/02/heart-health020413.html
 Lower Heart Disease Risk, National Institute of Health. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/educational/hearttruth/lower-risk/index.htm
 Warner, Jennifer Smoking Doubles Women’s Sudden Death Risk. WebMD Health News Dec. 11, 2012. http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/news/20121207/smoking-doubles-womens-sudden-death-risk