By Ravi Dave, M.D.
February is designated as “American Heart Month” to raise awareness of the risk factors for heart disease. Despite advances in diagnosis and treatment, and annual educational campaigns to promote heart-healthy behavior, heart disease still kills far too many people in this country.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with one in every three deaths caused by heart disease and stroke. That equates to 2,200 deaths per day.
In 2010 alone, heart disease and stroke hospitalizations cost our nation a staggering $444 billion in health-care expenses and lost productivity. That’s why the CDC and other partners have joined forces to launch “Million Hearts,” a national campaign to stop these cold-blooded killers.
The Million Hearts initiative seeks to prevent one million heart attacks and strokes by the end of 2016 by empowering people to make heart-healthy choices and focus on the “ABCs:”
Aspirin for people at risk
Blood pressure control
Here are some additional heart-healthy tips to help you and your loved ones become “one in a million” within the next five years:
Eat to your heart’s content.
Avoid saturated and trans fats and eat more high-fiber foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
Get your heart pumping.
Get 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily.
Change of heart.
Stop smoking to greatly decrease your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Follow your heart.
Know your cholesterol counts and blood-pressure readings and talk with your doctor about medical intervention, if needed.
Listen to your heart.
Symptoms such as chest pain and palpitations may mean something or nothing at all. Get them checked.
Heart to heart.
Volunteer in your spare time. Helping others can be good for your heart.
To take the Million Hearts pledge, visit www.millionhearts.hhs.gov. Happy Heart Month!
Dr. Ravi Dave is a board-certified cardiologist at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and a clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. For more information, call 310.899.7400 or visit www.uclahealth.org.