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February is American Heart Month

Almost half of all Americans have one if not more risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity, poor diet, physically inactive, or high blood pressure. Age is also a factor for increasing one's risk. 1 in 4 deaths are attributed to heart disease in American men and women. Let's face it, we love fast food, good restaurants and watching TV at night after work. The good news is that everyone, of all ages, can reduce their risks by making a few lifestyle changes.
The American Heart Association is calling on the younger generation to lend their voices. This year "American Heart Month 2017, Million Hearts® is calling on younger Americans to spread prevention messages. We believe young adults have the power to engage their parents in crucial conversations about heart disease prevention that can result in heart-healthy behavior changes." (https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/news-media/events/heart-month.html)
Challenge your family to make healthier eating habits. Take that favorite family recipe and make a few small changes to reduce calories and fat. Eat smaller portions, add fruits and vegetables and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Most Americans are dehydrated and don't even realize it. Decrease trans fats, extra sugars, and find things with lower sodium.
It's also important to start physical activity. Even if you can only take a short walk to the mailbox and back, it's better than being inactive all day. Take those baby steps to a better life. Be supportive of one another because very few of us like change and it's easy to find comfort at the dinner table. Go for a walk, develop a family friendly fitness competition or take an exercise class together.
Let's face the facts. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. But it can often be curtailed if healthier choices are made available and one takes time to manage personal health conditions. Schedule a physical, have your cholesterol levels and blood pressure checked because our families want us around and happy for many years to come.
Submitted by Casey Humphries

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