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  • Writer's pictureKristen Nickels, MS, RDN, LD

It's American Heart Month. Are you at risk for heart disease?

February is well known for Valentine’s Day, but it’s “heart month” in more ways than one. Every February, The American Heart Association reminds us to celebrate American Heart Month, which is a dedicated time to focus on cardiovascular health, i.e. heart health. We’ve previously discussed foods to eat, supplements to take, and labs to monitor to promote heart health (click HERE to see that post), and this year we’re focusing on knowing the warning signs, symptoms, and risk factors associated with heart disease, which is a term that encompasses a variety of conditions negatively affecting the heart’s structure and function and can lead to major medical events like a heart attack or stroke.

Per the Cleveland Clinic, early warning signs of heart disease include:

  • Chest pain

  • Shortness of breath

  • Swelling in the legs

  • Extreme tiredness

  • Dizziness and fainting

Symptoms of heart disease vary depending on the particular issue with the heart but may include the following, in addition to the above early warning signs:

  • Heart palpitations (pounding or racing heart)

  • Sweating

  • Lightheadedness

  • Neck or upper body pain

  • Heartburn

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Difficulty sleeping

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, contact your healthcare provider. See a full list of possible symptoms HERE.

Not experiencing any symptoms of heart disease? Great! Of course, it’s still important to live a heart-healthy lifestyle and to know the risk factors of heart disease so that you can be proactive. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute lists risk factors for heart disease to include the following:

  • High blood pressure

  • High cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • Smoking

  • Inactive lifestyle

  • Family history of early heart disease

The more risk factors present, the more likely it is that heart disease will develop. This information is not intended to promote fear but to empower you to take action that may be helpful to you.

Everyone is different, and it’s important to know individual risk, so make sure to keep regular medical appointments and discuss any concerns with a trusted healthcare provider, especially if you have a family history of heart disease.

Don’t forget to check out our previous post on heart health by clicking HERE. It highlights foods to eat, supplements to take, and labs to monitor to promote heart health.

Choose a healthy lifestyle by focusing on small, positive behavior change, and have a happy Heart Month!

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