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description of 10 health improvement strategies; balance calories with physical activity; reach for a variety of fruits and vegetables; choose whole grains; include healthy protein sources; use liquid non-tropical plant oils; choose minimally processed foods; subtract added sugars; cut down on salt; limit alcohol.

The American Heart Association has dubbed February as Heart Health Month. Due to recent news of professional athletes and heart attack, heart health—and also heart disease—may be at the top of our minds.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the CDC, killing about 1 in about every 4 people it affects. Our individual risk for heart disease comes from both our family history and our lifestyle.

Luckily, even small lifestyle changes made over time can lead to big improvements in heart health. Steps to improve heart health include:

  • continuing with routine medical care
  • exercising regularly
  • making quality sleep a habit
  • choosing healthy foods
  • limiting salt intake and alcohol
  • reducing or quitting smoking

Does some of this information sound similar? Our bodies are interconnected—so what’s good for the heart can also be good for the lungs, brain, and other organs!

There are a number of resources for learning about how to improve heart health. Heart-healthy recipes can be found on the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s website.  The American Heart Association created this infographic on what heart-healthy guidelines mean for you  and a visual guide on ten ways to improve your heart health.

Heart attack is serious and can be deadly. If you see signs of heart attack, call 9-1-1 immediately. A heart attack may not be the dramatic movie scene of someone grabbing their chest. Here are some symptoms of heart attack:

  • chest pain
  • feeling weak/lightheaded or faint
  • Pain in the jaw, neck or back
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath

Signs can look different in men and women. Breaking out into a cold sweat, feeling like a rope is squeezing the chest, upper back pressure, and dizziness and fainting may be important-to-identify symptoms in women.

If you want to learn how to spot signs of a heart attack and what to do, consider taking a CPR class. Learning how to do chest compressions (hands-only CPR) can make a difference in saving a life.

More information can be found on the American Heart Association website.

Local workshops on heart health, living with chronic conditions, and ways to improve lifestyle are offered by LifePath.  LifePath has a rotation of Healthy Living workshops which can be found on their website.

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