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Protecting your heart

Published: Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 3:18 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 3:57 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — Little steps can turn into life-saving steps in the fight against heart disease, according to state health officials.

In recognition of February as American Heart Month, Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, has urged Illinois residents to know the signs of a heart attack and what can be done to reduce the risk of a heart attack.

“Heart disease doesn’t just start one day in your 40s or 50s. It can be the result of not taking care of yourself over your lifetime – not being physically active, smoking, high stress levels and not eating a nutritious diet,” Hasbrouck said. “What you do in your teens, 20s and 30s can impact your health as you get older. It is important that all age groups embrace a healthy lifestyle and work to lower the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three deaths is the result of heart disease and stroke, equaling 2,200 deaths each day in the United States.

Joy Jaraczewski, health educator with the Bureau/Putnam County Health Department, also reviewed some of those risk factors to heart disease, including smoking, obesity, a poor diet and a lack of activity.

Also, there has been a common misconception that heart disease is primarily a man’s disease, but that is not the case. As men have gotten more educated about their heart during the years, the statistics have gotten better for men. Many of her recent heart programs funded through grants are now geared toward women, Jaraczewski said.

The big thing to remember is that a person is never too young or never too old to take at least some steps toward developing a healthier, heart-friendly lifestyle, Jaraczewski said.

Looking at specific recommendations, Jaraczewski said people should definitely stay away from smoking, which is the worst thing for the heart. People can also incorporate a bit more physical activity into their days, even while at work. For instance, while sitting at a desk, people can do something as simple as a few leg lifts. Even a few minutes a day of simple activities will help, but some aerobic exercise is also needed for a healthier heart, she said.

The local health department has information and materials available for people wanting to learn more about heart disease and how to live healthier lifestyles, Jaraczewski said.

“We all have a heart, and we all need to learn what to do to protect it,” she said.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com. 

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