February is known as heart prevention month. Here are some things you may not be aware of for your cardiovascular risk factors.

1)      Cardiovascular Disease is the leading cause of death for both MEN AND WOMEN in the US.

2)      Symptoms of a heart attack can present differently in men and women

3)      There are foods and spices you can consume to help improve your cardiovascular system

4)      Understanding what lab values mean can help determine your cardiovascular risk

5)      There are several clinics offering a stroke assessment or cardiovascular screening/assessment it is never too early to start prevention

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) only 27% of the general public were aware of all the symptoms of a heart attack. Knowing the signs can help reduce the 610,000 people who die from a cardiovascular event by calling 911 sooner and seeking medical intervention quickly.

Risk factors for a heart event include: diabetes, obesity, lack of physical exercise, poor diet, and excessive alcohol consumption.

Symptoms of a heart attack:  Although this picture shows purple as signs that primarily affect women and blue as signs that primarily affect men, it is possible for any of these signs to present and they should be recognized. The sooner 911 is called; there is more likely a chance of survival for the patient.

There are several food groups that should be consumed to help with improved cardiovascular function.


Salmon, Herring, Trout, Almonds, Walnuts, Berries, Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Red Peppers, Acorn Squash, Spinach,  Asparagus, Tomatoes, Broccoli, Arugula, Tumeric, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, and Garlic are all great things to have on hand when whipping up a heart healthy meal.

Things to avoid: processed foods (anything in a box, bag, or handed out a window is generally filled with saturated fats, food additives, artificial flavoring, preservatives) should be limited to 0-1 servings per week. Grains, corn, potatoes, and oats should also be limited to avoid unnecessary calories, and these also tend to be over processed and void of actual nutritional value.

Let’s not forget how important lab values are. When going for your yearly checkup, always keep a note of your cardiovascular risk indicators and compare them each time your blood work is evaluated for trends. Starting this in your early 20’s and seeing the trend throughout the years can really help determine how your body is functioning.

Some values to look for: CRP (c-reactive protein), Triglycerides, HDL, LDL, Fibrinogen, and overall Red Blood Cell Count and White Blood Cell Count.

If one of these numbers starts to elevate or decline and you start to notice: weight gain, fatigue, less sleep, increased stress or workload- then it is time to re-address your health and work towards managing prevention factors: what you eat, how much exercise you can get, and adequate hours of sleep each night.

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