GREENSBORO, N.C. — According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease. The good news is heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. That includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, and getting regular checkups.

Since February is American Heart Month, you might want to consider implementing heart-health strategies for preventing heart disease and encouraging other people to live heart healthy lives. American Heart Month is a nationwide heart-health awareness campaign geared towards encouraging all Americans to fight heart disease at home and in the community. 

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion offers the following tips to help celebrate American Heart Month and spread heart-health awareness:

  • Encourage families to make small changes, like using spices to season their food instead of salt.
  • Motivate teachers and administrators to make physical activity a part of the school day. This can help students start good habits early.
  • Ask doctors and nurses to be leaders in their communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease.
  • Add information about living a heart healthy lifestyle to your newsletter.
  • Tweet about American Heart Month.
  • Host a community event to promote heart health, like a group walk or a heart-healthy cooking demonstration.
  • Take action: Be the cure! Join the American Heart Association's national movement to support healthier communities and healthier lives.

According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease kills about 2,300 people a day. Statistics also show obesity in both youth and adults is at an all-time high. AHA representatives say youth are being diagnosed with heart disease earlier than ever and people just ZIP codes apart can live 25 years less than their neighbors because of disparities in health. The American Heart Association is urging people to take care of their hearts year-round. 

Consider the facts:

  • Heart disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined.
  • Heart attacks affect more people every year than the population of Dallas, Texas.
  • 83% believe that heart attacks can be prevented but aren't motivated to do anything.
  • 72% of Americans don't consider themselves at risk for heart disease.
  • And 58% put no effort into improving their heart health.

American Heart Month history:

The first proclamation was issued by President Lyndon B. Johnson in February 1964, nine years after he had a heart attack. Since then, the president has annually declared February American Heart Month. The American Heart Association's Heart Fund twins surround then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1961, three years before he issued the first proclamation declaring February American Heart Month. With organizations such as the American Heart Association and others working together, millions of people are enjoying longer, healthier lives. 

But, despite all the progress, heart disease remains the single largest health threat to Americans — just as it was when LBJ was alive. While science is advancing medicine in exciting new ways, unhealthy lifestyle choices combined with rising obesity rates in both kids and adults have hindered progress fighting heart disease.

The first Friday of the month, Feb. 7, is National Wear Red Day. Coast to coast, landmarks, news anchors and neighborhoods will go red to raise awareness and support for heart disease. For more information about American Heart Month, click here