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February is American Heart Month

By Lacy Hilliard
February is a month dedicated to matters of the heart. Appropriately, it is also American Heart Month. American Heart Month acts as an awareness campaign as the American Heart Association works to lower heart disease related deaths in the United States. 
Up until recently, heart disease was listed at the number one killer of men and women in the United States. In fact, the American Heart Association still touts these statistics as accurate. However, according to a recent article in the New York Times, it is cancer that takes the lives of more American men and women. The NYT article states that cancer has actually been the leading killer in the U.S. since 1999.
Regardless of whether or not heart disease still tops the charts, heart disease related complications kill about 380,000 people each year. A death toll that high is proof that heart disease is still worthy of awareness and education.
The good news is there are several ways to combat deadly heart disease. Perhaps even better news is that many of the steps taken toward a healthy heart are also proven to lower cancer risks.
The first step in combating heart disease and cancer is changing behaviors that are proven to increase the risk of developing both heart disease and cancer. Smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, and excessive alcohol consumption all increase the risk of developing heart disease and several different types of cancer. Other risk factors can include diabetics that don’t maintain their disease and those that suffer from high blood pressure. Failure to properly treat these chronic conditions can result in a much higher than average risk factor.
The usual suspects, such as a healthy diet and exercise are the best defense against heart disease. It is also important to be educated about the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke. Modern medicine has made several advances when it comes to those suffering from a stroke or a heart attack. However, time is of the essence in these instances and generally, the faster the response, the better the outcome.
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.