Sunday, February 5, 2012

February is American Heart Month: Are you heart healthy?

The American Heart Association (AHA) has dedicated February as American Heart Month to increase awareness that heart health is a priority. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. Clay County is no different. Year after year, heart disease is the first or second leading cause of death in the county.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know may be experiencing a heart attack, call 9-1-1. Minutes matter! Learn the warning signs in case of an emergency.
Heart Attack Warning Signs

• chest discomfort
• discomfort in other areas of the upper body such as one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach
• shortness of breath
• breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheadedness

The best way to avoid a heart attack is to prevent it! Sounds simple doesn’t it? Here are some tips from the AHA to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle. You can reduce the modifiable risk factors for heart disease, heart attack, and stroke if you follow these three steps: 1) Avoid tobacco, 2) Become more physically active, 3) Choose good nutrition.

If you smoke, then quit. If someone you know smokes, then encourage them to quit. Contact the Clay County Health Department for more information on free smoking cessation programs if you need help quitting.

Be physically active every day. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. We know that 150 minutes sounds like a lot of time, but you don’t have to do it all at once. You can break it up into smaller chunks of time as long as your activity is at least 10 minutes long.

Something is better than nothing. Research shows that people with a moderate level of fitness gain health benefits compared to people with low fitness levels.

A healthy diet is important to lowering your risk for heart disease. The key is choosing a balanced diet or eating plan. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy eating plan emphasizes fruits vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products; includes leans meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt added sugars. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up your favorite comfort foods! Healthy eating is all about balance. You can eat comfort foods once in a while and balance them out with healthier foods and more physical activity.

Be sure to talk to your physician before starting a new exercise or diet plan, especially if you have special health considerations.

601 East 12th Street, Flora, IL, 62839, Website:, Phone: (618) 662-4406 or (800) 544-4406, Fax: (618) 662-2801

For more information on health issues in Clay County, please visit