American Heart Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. The good news? Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. We can use this month to raise awareness about heart disease and how people can prevent it — both at home and in the community. Make a difference in your community: Spread the word about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage people to live heart healthy lives.

The stores are brimming with heart-shaped chocolate candy, but February is also American Heart Month — a good time for stepping back to assess what you can do to keep your heart healthy. Cardiovascular disease is a term for diseases of the heart as well as of the arteries and veins that supply the organs with blood. Cardiovascular disease is an acquired disease that results from factors like high blood pressure and cigarette smoking — which means that it’s also largely preventable. One of the reasons that cardiovascular disease can be so dangerous is that it can develop silently.

Heart disease describes a range of conditions that affect your heart. Diseases under the heart disease umbrella include blood vessel diseases, such as coronary artery disease; heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias); and heart defects you’re born with (congenital heart defects), among others.The term “heart disease ” is often used interchangeably with the term “cardiovascular disease.” Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke. Many forms of heart disease can be prevented or treated with healthy lifestyle choices.

Cardiovascular disease symptoms may be different for men and women. For instance, men are more likely to have chest pain; women are more likely to have symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea and extreme fatigue. You might not be diagnosed with cardiovascular disease until you have a heart attack, angina, stroke or heart failure. Cardiovascular disease can sometimes be found early with regular exams. Heart disease is easier to treat when detected early, so talk to your doctor about your concerns about your heart health. If you’re concerned about developing heart disease, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to reduce your heart disease risk. This is especially important if you have a family history of heart disease.

These are primary lines of defense against heart disease and its complications. Also, get regular medical checkups. Early detection and treatment can set the stage for a lifetime of better heart health. So, what’s the good news? It’s time to make a positive change! Many risk factors that are associated with heart disease are preventable. This means that you can make changes that can reduce your risk and improve your health. The three largest factors that impact your risk of developing heart disease include smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating you can help prevent many other types of heart disease. It’s never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and