Love your heart and know your numbers February is American Heart Month

BARNESVILLE — This month is American Heart Month and everyone, especially women, is encouraged to take care of their cardiovascular health.

Olivia Lee-Wood Jefferis, a nurse practitioner at WVU Medicine Barnesville Family Medicine East, shares the following information on cardiovascular disease:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person in the United States dies from cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds. Heart disease is still the top cause of death in all racial and ethnic groupings for both men and women.

“I have a strong family history of cardiovascular disease, which is why I strive tirelessly to enhance my general health. My mother’s experience with a heart attack was atypical, and she presented with what appeared to be indigestion,” Jefferis said. “I want to stress that symptoms can be unusual, such as unexplained shortness of breath, pain in the jaw, neck, arm, and/or back.

Most importantly, I want patients to understand the symptoms of probable cardiac disease and when to seek medical assistance.”

The risks for cardiovascular disease can be inherited. The modifiable risks include hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, smoking, obesity, unhealthy lifestyle patterns such as sedentary behavior, and a diet high in saturated fats, trans fats and processed foods.

Controlling or eliminating these risks will help you lower your chances of suffering a cardiovascular injury or death.

“I recommend that you arrange a wellness visit with your primary care provider for blood pressure and cholesterol checks,” Jefferis added. “They can help you identify your own particular risk factors and design a treatment strategy.”

The warning signs of heart disease include chest pain/pressure, shortness of breath on exertion, chronic fatigue, palpitations and swelling of the ankles and legs.

Tips for preventing heart disease include:

∫ Maintaining a healthy weight

∫ Consuming a healthy diet rich in lean meats, fruits, and vegetables

∫ Eliminating processed foods, as well as saturated and trans fats

∫ Increasing fiber intake

∫ Limiting salt and sugar intake

∫ Participating in 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walks, bicycling, and weightlifting, per week

To learn more about the warning signs and ways to prevent heart disease, visit CDC.gov/HeartDisease.


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