American Heart Month: How to reduce the risk of heart disease

The one thing these cardiologists most wish their female patients had done sooner

"One of the things Augusta Health has the distinction of - if you're having a heart attack [.] the average time to get the artery open across the country is 60 minutes", he said. These diseases are heavily influenced by women's lifestyle choices.

According to the CDC, approximately 610,000 people die from heart disease in the United States every year.

This month is American Heart Health Month and according to a new report, almost half of American adults are impacted by some type of heart disease.

You can help change this pattern by evaluating your risk factors and taking action.

Traditionally heart disease has been considered more of a concern for men, but heart disease is the number one killer in both men and women. Officials say there are simple steps you can take to be healthier. While almost 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented through education and lifestyle changes, cardiovascular diseases continue to be a woman's greatest health threat. You can impact your heart-health by maintaining a healthy weight, eating low-sodium foods, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol, limiting your alcohol intake, managing stress, and increasing your physical activity. The screening includes tests to help detect heart disease early and measures cholesterol, blood fat (lipids), and triglyceride levels.

Joseph R. Cunningham is the president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a Division of Health Care Service Corp., a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.

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