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Fast Facts: February is American Heart Month

Heart disease was the leading cause of death in the United States in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately one-in-four deaths is caused by heart disease. Around 18.2 million people in the U.S. aged 20 and older are impacted by some cardiovascular disease. There are many factors that may affect a person’s risk of developing a cardiovascular disease within their lifetime. Some of these factors include age, gender (males are more at risk), low physical activity, heredity and smoking. February is recognized as American Heart Month to raise awareness and education about the seriousness of protecting your heart health.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) Information Center analyzed state data related to coronary heart disease, stroke and heart attacks. While a wide range of cardiovascular diseases account for hospitalizations, these three are the most common.

Heart disease has the highest number of inpatient, outpatient and emergency department visits for 2019. The median age of patients with cardiovascular diseases is 67. Following along with the national trend, males had higher visit counts than women by almost 20,000 inpatient visits. Particularly in heart disease, men have a much larger visit count than women do.

The following tips can help you improve your heart health:

  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake.  These foods contain important antioxidants and nutrients that help protect the heart.
  • Pick wholegrains.  These foods (like brown rice, quinoa, and rolled oats) contain fiber nutrients vital to the body.
  • Get active.  Exercising for 30-40 minutes a day can reduce your risk of heart attack by one-third.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.  This will help reduce risk of high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and high inflammation.
  • Reduce salt intake.  A high-salt diet increases a risk of high blood pressure, which in turn can lead to a greater risk of heart disease.