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Simple Changes Can Improve Heart Health

This news story was published on February 25, 2011.
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(From Iowa Department of Public Health)

It beats an average of 103,680 times a day. It weighs less than a pound and is about the size of a fist. The human heart is a powerful, efficient organ that operates without any thought or effort on your part; however, a lack of attention to heart health is the number one cause of death in the United States. In Iowa, one of every three deaths is directly linked to cardiovascular disease. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), 6,912 people died from heart disease in 2009 and another 1,626 died from stroke.

February is American Heart Month, an opportunity to consider some simple steps you can take to ensure your heart is as healthy as it can be. Two main reasons people have heart disease or stroke are high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Both these conditions are dangerous, potentially deadly, and most importantly, preventable. Nearly 68 million American adults have high blood pressure, but one in two doesn’t have it under control. In addition, 71 million U.S. adults have high cholesterol, but one in two doesn’t have it under control.

Taking control of your heart health involves simple steps:

– Eat a healthy diet – low in salt, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
– Take at least 1 brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
– Don’t smoke.
– Follow your doctor’s instructions – use medications appropriately and as prescribed.

Increasing physical activity and improving your food choices are two of the easiest ways to improve your heart health. Looking for ways to get motivated? Consider forming or joining a Live Healthy Iowa team. For more information or to register, visit

For more information about heart disease, visit|

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