February has been federally designated as Heart Health Awareness Month, when the nation shines light on ways communities can be aware of their heart health and learn ways to lower their risk of heart disease. Learning to live a heart-healthy lifestyle is a top priority in Indian Country specifically because heart disease is the leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaskan Natives.
Heart disease, with coronary heart disease being most common, causes heart attacks. However, taking preventative measures can lower your risk of developing heart disease and improve your overall health and well-being.
Below is a list of risk factors for heart disease. Although some cannot be controlled, such as age, sex or family history, keep in mind that heart disease is still a preventable disease.
- High blood pressure
- High blood cholesterol
- Prediabetes, gestational diabetes or diabetes
- Overweight or obese
- Poor eating behaviors
- Physical inactivity
- Excessive use of alcohol
- Non-traditional tobacco use
- History of early heart disease within family
- History of preeclampsia (a sudden rise in blood pressure and too much protein in the urine during pregnancy)
- Age (55+ for women or 45+ for men)
Immediate steps can be taken to lower one’s risk of developing heart disease.
- Quit smoking
- Exercise regularly
- Develop healthy eating habits
- Plan regular health check-ups
- Manage stress
- Get enough good quality sleep
Please note that these risk factors and steps to prevent heart disease are not an exact guide for every person. We encourage you to examine your current lifestyle and begin making a plan for yourself and your family. Local professionals are available to guide you in the right direction if necessary.
Keep an eye out for a resource guide later this week that will help you examine your current lifestyle and ways to create a plan of action to prevent heart disease!