February is American Heart Month, which is pretty convenient with Valentine’s Day falling right in the middle. With that in mind, I have researched some facts about heart disease, risk factors, and ways you can improve your heart health.
Here are some sobering statistics about heart health: “Heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases kill over 800,000 Americans each year, accounting for one in every three deaths. It’s the nation’s number one killer among both men and women and the leading cause of health disparities across the population.”
With one in three deaths being attributed to heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, you should know which conditions, behaviors and other factors affect your heart health.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) list the following conditions as major contributors to poor heart health:
Heart disease can be affected by your genetics (family history). High blood pressure and heart disease are hereditary. Your chances of getting heart disease also increase as you age, though men and women are equally affected.
Race and ethnicity play a role, too. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the U.S., including African Americans, Hispanics, and whites. For Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders and American Indians or Alaska Natives, heart disease is behind only to cancer.
Surprisingly, where you live can be a factor in heart disease. States in the south to southeastern U.S. – Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee – have higher death rates from heart disease than other parts of the nation.
There are a number of things you can do to improve your heart health, including eating a low fat diet, quitting smoking, getting more exercise, and using prescription medications. If you have a consumer directed healthcare (CDH) account, like a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), Health Savings Account (HSA), or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA), you can use those tax-free benefit dollars for a wide range of approved medical expenses.
Here is a list of eligible healthcare expenses which can go a long way towards improving your heart health:
Practice some self love – with this knowledge about heart health, you can take steps towards keeping your heart healthy.