This February marks the 50th anniversary of American Heart Health Month. The purpose of February Heart Health is to raise awareness to America’s leading cause of death for both male and females, cardiovascular disease or CVD. CVD includes heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Make it your mission this month to learn all about your heart and how to be heart healthy.

Who is at risk? CVD does not discriminate against race, gender, or even age, as anyone can experience some form of cardiovascular disease. However, there are some people that are at higher risk than others. Men are more than twice as likely as women are to die from CVD. Furthermore, if you have a relative who has a history of CVD, you are at greater risk. African-Americans are also at a higher risk for CVD. About 44% of African-American men and 48% of African-American women have some form of CVD. Studies show that about 2 in 5 African-Americans have CVD, but less than half of them are getting treated for it.

Although CVD is a very dangerous disease, it can be controlled by a number of risk factors. A healthy diet is extremely key in preventing the disease. High cholesterol, fat, and other harmful health issues come from an unhealthy diet.  Be sure to eat healthy and stay away from fatty, unhealthy foods. The use of Tobacco is also another factor, the harmful effects smoking has on your heart will be sure to increase your risk. Alcohol is another major factor that plays into CVD. The more alcohol you intake, the higher your chances are at developing CVD. Furthermore, your weight also has a major effect on your heart. Your risk of CVD increases if you are obese,diet and exercise are a must in order to maintain a healthy weight. Be sure to have your cholesterol and blood pressure monitored as well; keeping an eye on those two factors will help you recognize if something is wrong at a much earlier stage than if you were to wait until symptoms of CVD occur.

We should all take the time to recognize cardiovascular disease this month, and take any necessary steps in order to prevent CVD. Those who have CVD or a loved one with the disease, should take advantage of this as a great time to help spread awareness and prevent it from growing. Everyone can make an impact on their lives and manage heart disease. Now is the perfect opportunity to get started!