February is American Heart Month

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February is American Heart Month, a month to raise awareness about heart disease and prevention. To reduce heart disease illness and death, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) Division of Health Promotion wants residents to know their blood pressure numbers and work to keep their blood pressure under control.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 50% of U.S. adults have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, usually has no signs or symptoms—which is why it is known as the silent killer. High blood pressure makes the heart work too hard and increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. Over 17 million people worldwide die each year from heart disease, making it the world’s leading cause of death. Heart disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain, or a stroke.

The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have a health professional measure it. Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless. The American Heart Association defines normal blood pressure as less than 120/80 mmHg and recommends regular screenings starting at age 20. If your blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg, screening is recommended once every two years.

According to the American Heart Association, 80% of heart disease is preventable. Simple lifestyle changes can have a life-saving impact on reducing high blood pressure, and in turn, reducing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Follow these heart-healthy lifestyle tips to protect your heart:

  • Be more physically active
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Quit smoking, visit NDQuits for help quitting tobacco
  • Reduce stress
  • Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep
  • Know your blood pressure numbers

For more information, visit www.heartstroke.health.nd.gov or contact Tiffany Knauf, NDDoH, at 701-328-2333.

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