February is all about hearts — and not just because of valentines, love notes, and red and pink decorations. It is also a month to remember how important it is to keep our own hearts healthy, by focusing on fighting heart disease and remembering those we’ve lost to it.

Last year, President Obama declared February as the American Heart Month. In his statement, he points out that heart disease is responsible for one out of every three deaths across the country.

Heart Disease: The Number One Killer

Here are a few statistics about cardiovascular or heart disease from the American Heart Association:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death around the world.
    • It causes more than 17.3 million deaths per year.
  • In 2013, it caused 31% of all global deaths.
  • Heart disease caused about one in every three deaths in America in 2013.
  • Heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.

What Is Heart Disease? How Can I Prevent It?

  • Heart disease occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries and prevents healthy blood flow.
    • Heart failure, arrhythmia, heart attack, and stroke are some of the different forms of heart disease.
  • Some risk factors are uncontrollable: race, gender, age, and genetic history.
    • Others are controllable: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, lack of exercise, and unhealthy diets.
  • Prevention is more simple than you think!
    • Intermountain Healthcare points out that “studies show that nearly everyone can become heart-healthy by following a healthy diet and participating in an appropriate exercise program; eliminating tobacco products; and following a routine health care plan.”

How to Celebrate American Heart Month

  • Get your heart checked, including blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Make a health plan for yourself with written and quantifiable goals.
  • Become more aware of heart disease, its symptoms, and possibilities for treatment.
  • Wear red on National Red Day — February 5th, 2016.
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