February is American Heart Month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report approximately 600,000 Americans die from heart disease each year – that’s one out of every four deaths.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable when individuals make healthy lifestyle choices and manage their health conditions.
Risk factors are conditions and lifestyle habits that increase your risk of heart disease. The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of having a heart attack. According to the American Heart Association, risk factors for heart disease include:
- High blood pressure
- Being overweight
- Physical inactivity
- Tobacco smoke exposure
- High blood cholesterol
- Uncontrolled stress
- Increasing age
- Family medical history
While certain risk factors – such as age and family history of early heart disease – cannot be changed, it is important to understand that you can lower your risk for heart disease. The CDC states that on average, people at low risk of heart disease live nearly 10 years longer than people at high risk. Keys to prevent or delay the onset of heart disease include healthy lifestyle habits that focus on weight management, being physically active, avoidance of tobacco smoke, and proper nutrition.
To help prevent heart disease and increase awareness of its effects, Civilian Health Promotion Services is promoting the “Do You Know Your Numbers” wellness campaign during American Heart Month. Some risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol, may not have obvious signs or symptoms. The Cardio Risk Profile screening available through CHPS can help with early identification of risk factors for heart disease. The CRP screening is free to all Department of Defense (appropriated fund) AFMC civilian employees.
For more information regarding wellness screenings, contact your local CHPS team or visit www.AFMCwellness.com.