February is Heart Awareness Month. That's good. We need to be as aware as possible of these ticking keepers of life pumping inside of our bodies.

According to the American Heart Association's 2019 Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics report, heart-related disease remains the top cause of death for Americans. Want a grim statistic? Linda R. Bernstein, Pharm D. of Vita Media Corporation recently confirmed the data showing that someone in the United States has a heart attack every 40 seconds. That's a sobering thought.

Let's review some of the most important things you can do and changes you can make to keep your heart as healthy as possible.

Quit smoking. I know this seems absurd to even repeat. However, no matter how long we've been smoking, quitting at any age can make a huge difference. Believe me, I understand how frustrating, and perhaps even annoying it is, to hear this warning yet once again--but facts are facts. Quitting smoking is still one of the very best things we can do for our heart health--and general health, too. Need help quitting? I recommend Allen Carr's book The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.

Even secondhand smoke can damage your heart, so please do your best to stay out of harm's way.

What are we eating? Here's the next most annoying but crucial thing to consider. The old saying "we are what we eat" has quite a bit of truth to it. Obviously we all want to indulge in treat foods from time to time. But, part of the downside to our incredible prosperity is having access at will to these foods anytime we want them.

Make it a TOP priority to change your lifestyle to include, of course, plenty of greens and other vegetables, fruits, whole grains (are not the enemy), and watch our intake of trans fats, sodium, and all of that added sugar which can wreak havoc on our cardiovascular health.

Limit alcohol consumption. According to WebMD.com, "for women, this means no more than one drink a day. For men, it’s no more than two. One drink equals 4 ounces of wine (about half a glass) or 12 ounces of beer (usually one can or bottle)."

Speak with your doctor about exercise and stress management. Both stress and lack of exercise have a huge negative effect on heart health. There are many ways to slowly incorporate movement and/or stress lowering activities into your life. Make sure you get the go-ahead and recommendations from your health care provider.

Let this Heart Awareness Month finally be the moment when you make the changes that protect your heart health, and thus, the quality and quantity of your life.

Ready for more tips?

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