February is the start of American Heart Month as many healthcare providers, local organizations, and similar groups try to educate the public on how to manage heart disease risks.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, American Heart Month is a national campaign aimed at building awareness about heart disease risks, prevention tips, and how Americans can improve their overall heart health.

American Heart Month is a critically important healthcare campaign since a significant portion of Americans have heart disease or elevated heart disease risks. The CDC estimates that nearly 1 in 4 adults in the U.S has heart disease and close to 610,000 people die from heart disease-related conditions.

For February and American Heart Month, AFC Urgent Care Norwalk wants to make sure you’re keeping on top of your heart health and help guide important medical decisions that help prevent heart disease.

Help get the word out on these proven ways to prevent, manage, and treat heart disease this month!

Know your risk of heart disease, stroke, or a heart attack

Heart disease, like most chronic diseases, are directly linked to a mix of behavioral and environmental factors. A person’s recreational drug and alcohol use, diet, and exercise habits can significantly impact their heart disease risks.

In addition, a person’s current medical conditions and their family history also play a role in how likely they could develop heart disease. The CDC identified key behaviors, medical conditions, and lifestyle factors that increase one’s heart disease risks:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Diets high in trans and/or saturated fats
  • Physical inactivity
  • Frequent alcohol and tobacco use
  • Hereditary factors including genetic predisposition to heart disease

A combination of these risk factors greatly increases a person’s heart disease risks, which means that patients need to be mindful of how they risk factors may compound into a severe cardiovascular disease or event like a heart attack.

Screen for high blood pressure and monitor any spikes in your blood pressure

High blood pressure, known as hypertension, is one of the most significant indicators for heart disease and potentially a heart attack if patients don’t routinely monitor their blood pressure level. A healthy blood pressure rating is a >120/80Hg (systolic over diastolic) based on recently updated medical guidelines.

However, many patients do not actively screen or monitor their blood pressure rating throughout the year even if they have multiple risk factors. High blood pressure doesn’t have any actual symptoms, which makes screening even more important for patients.

The CDC found that 70 percent of patients 65 or older have high blood pressure, but only 25 percent actively manage the disease with medication or treatment.

Thankfully, if you or a family member has increased high blood pressure risks, then you can work with your local medical providers to coordinate treatment. Patients should schedule frequent blood pressure tests, get a blood pressure monitor at home, and work with their medical professionals to schedule any necessary treatment.

Manage lifestyle risk factors, improve wellness routines, and work with your medical professionals to reduce heart disease risks.

Even though heart disease is extremely prevalent in the U.S, it is also easily preventable if patients make a few changes in their wellness routines.

The American Heart Association suggests that patients with high blood pressure or other lifestyle risks can drastically reduce their heart disease risks by incorporating the following changes:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, poultry, and fish that is low in sodium and trans fat
  • Reduce daily alcohol consumption and limit/cease tobacco use
  • Exercise regularly (at least once a day) and develop a more active lifestyle
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Work with your doctors and medical staff to slowly develop a wellness routine

The team at AFC Urgent Care Norwalk hopes that you make the most of these heart health tips and have a great American Heart Month!