Heart Health – February is American Heart Month

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ron-riosBy Ronald G. Rios

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event. In 2009 an estimated 785,000 Americans will have a new coronary attack and about 470,000 will have a recurrent attack.

It is important for both men and women to learn more abut the risks and prevention strategies of heart disease. To raise awareness about heart disease, February is American Heart Month. During this month, I ask individuals to educate themselves about a healthy lifestyle and learn how to make choices that can increase your overall heart health.

Giving up smoking, lowering high blood pressure, reducing high blood cholesterol, aiming for a healthy weight, becoming physically active and managing diabetes can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Other ways to get heart healthy include choosing foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol; lowering saturated fats in your recipes by substituting with low-fat or fat-free ingredients; and adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into your diet. You can also talk to your doctor about nutrition, exercise and target numbers. You should know your target numbers for blood pressure (less than 120 mmHg when the heart is beating and less than 80 mmHg when the heart is resting), cholesterol (less than 200 mg/dL), and triglycerides (less than 150 mg/dL).

In September 2008 the Middlesex County Public Health Department launched, “Combating Obesity for a Healthier Middlesex County,” which educates residents about obesity and its affect on health. Instructional courses have been designed for the classroom and community settings to provide participants information about nutrition and fitness.

Schools, faith-based organizations, employers and staff, health professionals and other community groups can participate in the FREE courses. Persons interested can call the Middlesex County Public Health Department Health Education Division at 732-745-8860. You can also view the program brochure and other tip sheets by visiting http://co.middlesex.nj.us/publichealth/hot-topics.asp.

Everyone should be aware of heart disease and how to prevent it. You should to talk to your doctor about a healthy lifestyle. Lastly, be aware of your own medical history and your family history of heart disease.

For additional information about heart disease please visit the following websites:

Ronald Rios is a Middlesex County Freeholder and chairman of the county’s Committee of Public Health and Education.


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