Heart-Healthy Choices for Heart Month

February is Heart Month, a time when all Americans are encouraged to focus on their cardiovascular health.

The Facts on Heart Disease

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), heart disease is the number one cause of death in North Dakota.  It’s a problem not only in our state, but across the country. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 695,000 people in the United States died from heart disease in 2021 — 1 in every 5 deaths.

Many U.S. adults have at least one of the three key risk factors for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or use tobacco. Diabetes, being overweight or obese, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol and/or illegal drug use can all increase your risk of heart attack or even heart failure.

For women, the statistics are even more sobering. More women die of heart disease than from every kind of cancer combined.

Small Steps to Take

There are multiple ways to improve your cardiovascular health and reduce your chances of heart disease.

Simple lifestyle changes can have a life-saving impact on reducing high blood pressure, reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Follow these heart-healthy lifestyle tips:

  • Be active and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Stop tobacco use including vaping, smoking and chewing. Need help quitting? Call NDQuits at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) to begin a free program that can help you quit your way.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Limit highly-caffeinated energy drinks.

To reduce heart disease illness and death, HHS encourages regular monitoring of blood pressure to help keep it under control. Blood pressure levels can be measured by a health care professional, at a pharmacy or with a home blood pressure monitor. The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as less than 120/80 mmHg and recommends regular screenings starting at age 20.