February is American Heart Month. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for Americans, with approximately 1 in 5 deaths related to heart disease. Heart disease is an umbrella term for a variety of heart conditions. The most common heart disease is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack.

Risk factors for heart disease include family history, smoking, high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, diabetes, overweight/obesity, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol consumption. Some of these risk factors are modifiable, meaning that they can be changed with lifestyle interventions and/or medications. Visit your physician for an annual physical and discuss your numbers, i.e., blood pressure reading, cholesterol, BMI, and diabetes measures, such as A1C and blood glucose. Get recommendations from your health care provider for exercise, diet, alcohol use, and your risk for heart disease. Women have additional factors that can contribute to heart disease which should be discussed with a physician, including reproductive health and pregnancy-related concerns.

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