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February is American Heart Month

In This Article

February is American Heart Month. Each year the American Heart Association sponsors American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart disease and how to keep that heart beating. Heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths each year. So, let’s talk about it.

The Heart

The heart is a part of the circulatory system. The circulatory system includes the heart, blood vessels, blood, and the lymph. This system is affected by everything we put in our bodies. Our bodies rely on the heart to oxygenate blood and remove waste. Taking small steps can greatly reduce your chance of heart disease. Heart disease is the main killer of men and women in the United States.

When people talk about heart disease, they are usually talking about coronary heart disease (CHD). It’s also called coronary artery disease (CAD). This is the most common type of heart disease. CHD is when the coronary arteries that take blood to the heart are narrowed or blocked by plaque. Plaque is made up of cholesterol and fatty materials. Things in the blood, like plaque, can cause heart attacks. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart suddenly stops.

Signs of a heart attack:

  • Chest Discomfort. It may feel like pressure, squeezing, or pain
  • Discomfort in other areas of the body. This may be pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, or jaw.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats, nausea, or lightheadedness

There are ways to lessen the risk of having heart problems. Leading a healthy lifestyle is the key to heart health. There are a few tips to help you keep your heart healthy.

  • Quit Smoking
  • Eat Healthy
  • Drink Moderately
  • Manage Stress
  • Watch Your Weight and Eat Healthy
  • Physical Activity
  • Don’t Do Drugs

Substances and The Heart

Substance abuse problems wage all different kinds of war on our bodies. Drug and alcohol abuse touches and affects every part of the body. If one part of the body is not working properly that can put every other organ in jeopardy. The heart circulates oxygen throughout the body. If the heart isn’t pumping properly, the body goes without the right amount of oxygen.


Alcohol abuse affects the whole circulatory system. There have been studies that show alcohol can help overall health. They emphasize drinking moderately. In most cases, that does not apply to people with alcohol abuse problems. When you drink excessively and cannot stop drinking- you have a problem. Alcohol abuse puts more of a strain on your heart.


Illicit drugs have an adverse effect on the body. Drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth cause harm to our hearts. Cocaine and meth have large impacts on blood pressure. When injected, these drugs (and whatever else is in mix) go directly into the bloodstream. The heart immediately begins beating faster. These drugs can cause high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, heart attacks, and seizures.

Am I At Risk

Everyone has the potential to get heart disease. The question is, am I at a higher risk for heart disease? Your age and family history affects your risk for heart disease. Family history of heart problems does not mean you will absolutely have heart problems, as well. It means that you are at a higher risk than others.

Being at a higher risk can be combated with a healthy lifestyle. You are never ‘too young’ to worry about your heart. Beginning at a young age, watching what you eat and being active plays a pivotal role in being healthy. With obesity on the rise, heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases are beginning at younger ages.

It is Heart Month and a perfect time to take a look at our lifestyles and talk about the heart. It is never too early to have a conversation with your doctor. Heart disease and other cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in America.

That fact combined with our addiction epidemic is worrying. Addiction wreaks havoc on the body leaving it unable to keep our organs working the way they need to be. Living a healthy lifestyle can be the answer to so many problems we face. A healthy lifestyle can help keep both heart disease and addiction at bay.

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