South Heartland Health shares heart health tips for American Heart Month

South Heartland Health shares heart health tips for American Heart Month

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) – February is American Heart Month and the South Heartland District Health Department is highlighting the importance of heart health and preventing cardiovascular disease during the month.

According to health experts, one person dies from cardiovascular disease every 33 seconds globally.

Director Michele Bever said what makes cardiovascular disease so dangerous, is that it can lead to a lot of life-threatening conditions in patients.

”Cardiovascular diseases are diseases of the heart and blood vessels and there’s a set of conditions as a result of a substance called plaque that’s building up in our arteries and these conditions could be coronary artery disease, where it’s chest pain, heart attack, or stroke,” Bever said.

She added that cardiovascular disease is not only the leading cause of death nationwide but also prevalent in the state of Nebraska.

”About 1 in 12 people have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular disease and these are the leading causes of death across the nation actually and if you have diabetes than you’re two to four times more likely to have heart disease or a stroke than those who do not have diabetes,” Bever said.

In addition to being a leading cause of death, she mentioned that the disease also imposes a financial burden on families, with healthcare costs exceeding $422.3 billion between 2019 and 2020.

To lower the risk of the disease and improve your overall cardiovascular health, Bever emphasized the importance of making lifestyle changes and educating yourself about the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

”Both diabetes and cardiovascular disease have similar risk factors, so it’s important to learn or find out if you have those risk factors and think about whether to take some next steps and make some changes and there’s some things everyone can do to make their risk lower,” Bever said.

She also suggests the following to reduce your risk for getting cardiovascular disease.

Checking your ABCs:

  • A – is for the A1C test, measuring your blood sugar (glucose) levels, a risk factor for diabetes. High blood sugar levels can harm your heart, your blood vessels, kidneys, feet and eyes.
  • B is for Blood Pressure, addressing hypertension that can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and kidney disease.
  • C is for cholesterol, specifically LDL, can build up and cause heart issues.

For all the ABCs, consult your healthcare provider to understand your numbers, set goals, and determine actions to achieve them.

If you are at risk for cardiovascular disease, managing A1C, blood pressure, and cholesterol is crucial. Many people are able to lower their risks to a healthy range by making lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Keeping a healthy weight
  • Making healthy food choices (Eating a healthy diet, including limiting sodium (salt) and alcohol)
  • Staying Active (Getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week – about 30 minutes each day for 5 days each week)
  • Quitting smoking
  • Managing stress

To locate places for blood pressure measurement, A1C tests, diabetes risk assessments, or receive advice on physical activity and healthier food choices – you can speak with staff members at the South Heartland District Health Department or visit their website at

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