February is American Heart Month

(AP Photo/Mel Evans)

LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – February is American Heart Month and Suzy Merchant’s experience is a good and timely reminder that if heart problems can happen to her they can really happen to anyone.

And there are some things we all can do to make sure we’re taking our heart’s health seriously.

The heart is the center of the cardiovascular system and responsible for nearly everything that gives your body life.

“You only have one and it pumps the blood to your entire body. Without a heart you’re basically not going to be alive,” explains Sparrow Health Systems cardiologist Dr. Joel Cohn.

Dr. Cohn says if you don’t take care of it, your health can be in serious trouble.

“When the arteries get narrowed enough or get narrowed acutely and cause heart attacks. The number one cause of death in America is coronary heart disease,” says Dr. Cohn.

Dr. Cohn says great strides have been made in the reduction of heart disease.

However, in the last 24 months “We’ve started to see unfortunately a slight uptick in the risk again of death from heart disease.”

Dr. Cohn says eating healthy foods, exercising, and avoiding smoking are a few things you can do to keep your heart healthy.

But, even if you maintain a healthy lifestyle the American Heart Association’s Rodney Parkkonen says it’s also important to know your family’s heart health history.

“80 percent of heart disease is preventable but there is 20 percent that is genetic. With February being American Heart Month it’s really important that people go to the doctor and get those numbers checked out and come up with a plan for the rest of the year to stay on a healthy path,” reminds Parkonnen.

And according to Dr. Cohn it’s never too early to start taking these steps. “Prevention starts at home. I tell people to focus on those things that they can control.”

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