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Did you know that the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States is heart disease? February is marked as American Heart Month to help spread awareness of the disease and educate the public on the risks and symptoms of the disease.

Do you know the factors that put you at a greater risk for heart disease? According to the American Heart Association, these are some of the leading factors you should be aware of:

  • Age. More than 83% of the people that suffer from fatal coronary heart disease are 65 years or older.
  • High cholestorol. A higher blood cholesterol has been directly linked to higher risks of developing heart disease.
  • Relatives with heart disease. Individuals with parents or close relatives who suffer from heart disease have a predisposition to develop heart disease as well.
  • Lack of exercise. Individuals who lead a sedentary lifestyle, or a lifestyle lacking in physical activity, are more likely to develop heart disease than people who are more active. those who do.
  • Excess body weight. People who are overweight or have excess body fat, especially in the waist region, have a greater risk for developing heart disease. They are at greater risk for having a stroke even if they have no other risk factors.
  • Gender. Males are biologically predisposed to have a greater risk of developing heart disease than women. However, heart disease still affects women and should not be ignored.
  • Race. Races that are at greater risk of developing heart disease include: African American, Mexican American, American Indians, native Hawaiians and some Asian Americans.
  • Smoking. By smoking cigarettes daily, the risk of developing heart disease increases by two to four times verses if you did not smoke.
  • High blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with a variety of different health problems including: stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and congestive heart failure. It requires the body to work overtime. When combined with other heart disease risk factors, such as obesity, smoking and diabetes, the risks become even greater.
  • Diabetes. Having diabetes greatly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular health issues. Nearly 75% of individuals with diabetes die due to heart related health problems.

Do any of these issues apply to you? Are you afraid you might develop heart disease? Here are some ways to stay heart healthy and dimish your risk of developingthis fatal health problem:

  • Stay active. Make sure that you include 30 minutes of physical activity into your schedule each day.
  • Quit using tobacco products. The use of tobacco products is one of the worst risk factors associated with developing heart disease. If you do not currently use tobacco products, do not start. If you do, try developing a successful system for you to quit the terrible habit. Learn more, here.
  • Stay up-to-date on necessary health screenings. Regular visits to your healthcare provider allow for the opportunity to check your blood pressure, check your cholesterol levels and be screened for diabetes, all of which contribute to your risk of developing heart disease.
  • Eat a heart healthy diet. Avoid foods rich in saturated and trans fat, which can contribute to your risk of developing heart disease. Instead eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.