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February is American Heart Month!
Supporting Your Heart & Cardiovascular Health
By Extraordinary Health writers & Comments by Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH

With Valentine’s Day approaching and “love in the air,” it can be rather sobering to talk about the heart in terms of heart disease. But the topic needs to be addressed, since heart disease is the leading cause of death and a contributor to disability for men and women alike in America. So, now that we’ve entered the month of February—which is designated as American Heart Month—it’s a perfect time to talk about heart health.

But many people think that the topic of heart health, particularly heart disease, is a topic that should be discussed for the benefit of other people, but not for them personally. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Heart disease, also called coronary artery disease (CAD) or ischemic heart disease, is a major killer and instigator of disability.

In fact, each year, approximately 600,000 Americans die from heart disease—that’s one out of every four deaths—making heart disease the leading cause of death for both men and women.

It’s also a strain on the economy, workforce and families, costing $312.6 billion each year and leading to disability, preventing people from working, from enjoying family activities and resulting in a lower quality of life.

But what’s behind heart disease? Heart disease is a result of atherosclerosis, or “hardening of the arteries.” In atherosclerosis, fatty deposits of cholesterol and other cellular waste products build up in the heart arteries’ inner linings. This results in artery blockages and prevents oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. Oxidation from free radical damage is also an important trigger of atherosclerosis as is systemic, unrelenting bodily inflammation that can also directly and adversely affect the plaque in single arteries and throughout the arteries leading to the heart.

And here’s the kicker: heart disease is preventable because there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk of heart disease, including eating a healthy diet. Some heart-healthy foods and drinks to enjoy (organic, of course) are salmon, tuna, flaxseed, chia seed, spinach, broccoli and other greens; sweet potatoes; red bell peppers; tomatoes; papaya; cantaloupe; blueberries, almonds, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil; red wine (with Resveratrol) in moderation; and dark chocolate, with a 70 percent or higher cocoa content.

Additionally, staying at a healthy weight, controlling your blood pressure and blood sugar levels, lowering your cholesterol, getting enough exercise and not smoking—to name a few more—can help lower your risk for heart disease.

In fact, for women, having just one risk factor such as high blood pressure, smoking or being overweight, doubles their risk for heart disease. Yes; that’s right. Just one risk factor doubles a woman’s risk for heart disease. That’s why it’s so important to take steps to lower your risk for heart disease in all ways possible.

So, go ahead and enjoy the month of February, including Valentine’s Day and all the excitement associated with it.

But don’t forget to show your heart some extra love, too, not only during February, but all year long.

Additional information, products, and resources to support heart and cardiovascular health: Suggestions by Christine Dreher, CCN, CCH


Note: The content provided in this article is intended for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of professional medical advice. You are encouraged to consult with your medical health care provider regarding any health concern or health-related condition you may have.

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