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Area residents can reduce their chances of getting heart disease

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OMAHA — February has been set aside as ‘Heart Health Month,’ at time to take special notice of heart disease.

Heart disease is the leading cause of the death in the United States. It is also a major cause of disability.

A person’s risk of heart disease increases as they get older.

Men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older have a greater risk of heart disease.

Recent studies show women might want to pay extra attention to heart disease.

Heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.

National statistics show that 300,000 women die every year from heart events.

Men and women don’t always have the same symptoms prior to a heart attack.

Instead of a crushing chest pain like often happens with men suffering a heart attack, the sign might be fatigue, or nausea for women.

There are several steps that can be taken to reduce a person’s risk of a heart attack.

• get screened

• control blood pressure.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly - at least once a year for most adults, and more often if you have high blood pressure. Take steps, including lifestyle changes, to prevent or control high blood pressure.

• Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control.

High levels of cholesterol can clog the arteries and raise the risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack.

Lifestyle changes and medicines (if needed) can lower your cholesterol. Triglycerides are another type of fat in the blood. High levels of triglycerides may also raise the risk of coronary artery disease, especially in women.

• eat better... More vegetables, less fats and sugars will help you maintain

• maintain proper weight.

• exercise more

• do not smoke.

• limit alcohol

• manage stress

Exercise helps. It reduces the risk of breast cancer. It reduces the risk of heart disease, and it just makes you feel better.

Experts say the worst thing for a person’s heart is smoking.