By Lauren Smith, Corporate Wellness Specialist

Since 1964, February has been celebrated as American Heart Month to urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease. An estimated 647,000 people lose their life each year as a result of heart disease. In fact, someone in the U.S. dies from heart disease every 37 seconds.

The most common type of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. The signs of a heart attack can happen suddenly or may develop slowly over time – even weeks before a heart attack occurs. Warning signs include:

  • Pain or pressure in the center of chest
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms
  • Upper body pain in back, neck or jaw
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Nausea and vomiting

How to be heart healthy

Here are some healthy lifestyle tips you can adopt that can lower your risk for heart disease:

  • Quit smoking – Smoking damages your entire circulatory system and can lead to coronary heart disease, hardened arteries and heart attacks.
  • Eat right – Healthy foods (e.g., vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains, lean meats and fish) are the fuel our bodies use to make new cells and create the energy we need to thrive and fight diseases, as well as maintain good heart health.
  • Increase physical activity – The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes per week of moderate to intense exercise as a way to improve overall cardiovascular health.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – If you’re overweight, you can reduce your risk for heart disease by losing weight and keeping it off. Even losing five to 10 pounds can produce a dramatic blood pressure reduction.
  • Get regular checkups – Ask your doctor if you’re at risk for heart disease and what you can do to reduce your risk.

Learn more from the American Heart Association