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Ah, Valentine’s Day—a time to shower those we love with flowers, chocolates, or diamonds and maybe menVALENTINEd a sick heart.

Are you heart-sick? I don’t mean the tear-jerking roller coaster of shattered romance or an emotional pitter-patter, but the thump, thump, thump of the body organ inside your chest that keeps you alive.

February is American Heart Month. Will you strive to prevent heart disease or make efforts to improve problems that already exist?

Most people know heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The good news is that heart disease or your sick heart is preventable or controllable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends nine steps to help.

  1.  Eat a healthy diet. This means to:
    • Choose at least five serving of fruits and vegetables each day for adequate nutrients
    • Eat foods high in fiber to help control blood cholesterol levels
    • Limit red meats and fatty foods to improve blood cholesterol numbers
    • Reduce salt and sodium intake for better blood pressure control
  2.  Stay a healthy weight. Excessive weight increases your risk for heart disease.
  3.  Exercise regularly. As little as 30 minutes per day on most days of the week helps sustain a healthy weight and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
  4. Monitor your blood pressure. Maintain a resting blood pressure of 120/80 mm Hg or less for optimal heart health.
  5. Don’t smoke.
  6. Limit alcohol use.
  7. Check cholesterol levels. Have cholesterol screened at least every five years and more often if problems exist.
  8. Manage your diabetes.
  9. Take your medicine.

Don’t be heart sick. Treat yourself and the ones you love with the gift of life by following and helping them to follow these guidelines. This month and every month, improve your heart-health so you will live to enjoy Valentine’s Day for many years to come.

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