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February is the time to focus on heart health

Posted at 8:58 AM, Feb 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 16:07:47-05

February is National Heart Month and FOX 13 and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah are proud supporters of the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Campaign. Today, we "Go Red for Women" to remind women and men that good heart health is critical to living a long and happy life.

So just what is heart disease? Dr. Amy Khan, executive medical director for Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah says, “Coronary artery disease or coronary heart disease refers to the blockage of blood flow arteries that serve or feed the heart muscle and when untreated, can cause a heart attack."

Coronary artery disease remains the number one killer of American women and is responsible for one in three female deaths. Khan says it's important to know the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. She explains, "Men and women may experience some chest pressure, tightness, a feeling of cold, or clamminess, maybe a bit light headed, feeling anxious."

There are other symptoms more specific to women. “Women are actually more likely to have symptoms of shortness of breath or pain in their neck or their jaw or their back, or either arm," says Khan.

Fortunately, says Khan, the odds of developing coronary artery disease can be greatly reduced. "Cardiovascular disease is greatly preventable. In fact, 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented by taking steps to modify your lifestyle, engaging in healthy dietary practices.”

Healthy food choices include a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and avoiding processed foods and those high in salt and refined sugar.

Another tool to keep your heart healthy? "It’s important to keep your weight in check, in the optimal range and stay physically active, being sure to do something to exercise your heart on a daily basis or near daily basis," said Kahn.

Khan says the COVID-19 virus has made it more difficult for many to stay on top of their health. “Many people have postponed their medical checkups, maybe not gotten their medications refilled in a timely manner.”

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah wants to remind everyone to stick to the basics and follow good healthy heart practices. “Now is the time to get back into the saddle. Follow up with your doctor, get your blood pressure checked and take charge to reduce your risk factors for heart disease and prevent cardiac deaths," says Khan.

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