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Not everyone loves the sappiness and romanticism of Valentine’s Day.  But everyone has a heart, and we all have the ability to protect our hearts from heart disease and stroke.

In honor of National Heart Month, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has launched a national education and prevention initiative called Million Hearts™.  The goal of the campaign is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years.  Did you know that over 80,000,000adults, or 1 in 3 people, in the U.S. have some form of heart disease?  Or that more than 2 million Americans suffer heart attacks and strokes each year?  According to the CDC, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in this country, and it accounts for more than $444 billion is health care expenses and lost productivity.  And here’s a staggering pair of statistics from the CDC:  on average, someone dies every 4 minutes of a stroke, and every 34 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a heart attack.

The good news is that most heart attacks and strokes are preventable.  The Million Hearts™ website is a great resource for information about prevention and treatment of heart attack and stroke, and provides practical instructions for how you can reduce your risk of these deadly conditions.  I’m a particularly big fan of the five-point action plan that CDC offers individuals for reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke:

  • Prevent heart disease and stroke in your family by UNDERSTANDING the risks.
  • GET UP and GET ACTIVE by exercising for 30 minutes on most days of the week.
  • KNOW your ABCS:
    • Appropriate Aspirin Therapy
    • Blood Pressure Control
    • Cholesterol Management
    • Smoking Cessation
  • STAY STRONG by eating a heart-healthy diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in sodium, saturated and trans fats, and cholesterol
  • TAKE CONTROL of your heart health by following your doctor’s instructions for medications [and] treatment.

Cruise the Million Hearts™ website, and check out the My Life Check tool from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association for more practical, easy-to-use advice on how you can improve your heart health.  This February, skip the box of Valentine’s Day chocolates.  Instead, give yourself the gift of ensuring that you’re not one of the 2 million Americans who suffer heart attack or stroke this year. Your loved ones will thank you for it!

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