We encourage readers to take the ‘Million Hearts’ pledge this month

Recognizing February as American Heart Month, Pikeville Medical Center and the Medical Leader encourage the public to educate themselves about the dangers of heart disease.

The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions, the most common of which is coronary artery disease. Other types of heart disease involve the valves in the heart or the heart may not pump well and cause heart failure.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. Every year, about 935,000 Americans have a heart attack. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 600,000 people died annually of heart disease - that’s one in every four deaths.

It’s important to know the risk factors for heart disease. There are several conditions and lifestyle factors that can put people at a higher risk of developing heart disease, including:

• High level of low-density lipoprotein (or “bad”) cholesterol

• High blood pressure

• Diabetes

• Tobacco use

• Eating foods that are high in saturated fats, cholesterol or salt

• Obesity

• Excessive alcohol use

• Having a family history of heart disease

In its “Million Hearts” campaign, the CDC is challenging America to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes in the U.S. by 2017. The agency provides these heart healthy tips:

• Get up and get active. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.

• Know Your ABCs. Ask your doctor if you should take aspirin every day, find out if you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol and quit smoking if you smoke.

• Take control of your heart health by following your doctor’s prescription instructions.

To take the “Million Hearts” pledge, visit http://millionhearts.hhs.gov.