February is recognized nationally as American Heart Month, a time set aside to focus on all things heart health. Unfortunately, heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. It is estimated that 1 in 4 Americans are affected by heart disease.

The most common cause of heart disease is coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries, which deliver blood to the heart. This happens slowly over time and usually causes no symptoms initially but if left untreated can lead to heart attacks. Between 2014-2015 the cost of heart disease was estimated to be $219 billion dollars each year, these costs were due to medical care received and lost productivity due to death !

Key risk factors are associated with heart disease and include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, being overweight / obese, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excessive use of alcohol. However, all of these risk factors can be changed or improved with dietary changes, smoking cessation and reduction / elimination of alcohol intake.

A diet that includes more vegetables, less starch (bread, pasta, rice, potatoes), less salt and red meat helps to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of diabetes. In addition physical activity such as walking, riding a bicycle, dancing, running, skating, weight training, etc., consistently for at least 150 minutes per week also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease.

The time to make changes is now, it is not too late and it is possible to improve your health. Will it be challenging, sure, but most worthy things in life are challenging; however, the results are worth it. We at Compassion Primary Care are committed to helping you during this journey. We have included some helpful links below and if you need a primary care nurse practitioner, we would be happy for you to join our practice. You can call us at 813-669-3084 or visit compassionprimarycare.com

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