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American Heart Month: Ways to focus on heart health, spread awareness

Here's a few ways you can focus on your heart health this month.

ST. LOUIS — February was named American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart health and urge Americans to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

Every year, more than 600,000 Americans die from heart disease and it's the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. Risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes and high alcohol use.

During the month of February, Americans are encouraged to focus on their heart health and spread awareness to others.

Note: The video above tells the story of Ben Hay, who was born with a heart defect, and who recently had a heart transplant.

National Wear Red Day

National Wear Red Day falls on Friday, Feb. 3 this year. On this day, many people wear red to raise awareness about heart disease in women.

The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute shared several other ways you can help spread awareness and make heart healthy choices, including:

  • Commit to a walking schedule
  • Try heart-healthy recipes
  • Host an online community event
  • Work with local recreation and fitness centers

To view the full list of ways to participate in American Heart Month, visit the NHLBI's website.

Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week

Congenital Heart Disease Awareness Week is Feb. 7-14. It’s a time to recognize children born with heart defects and highlight treatments and advancements that have allowed children to grow and thrive.

Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are present at birth and can affect the structure of a baby’s heart and how it works, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CHDs can vary from mild to severe. About one in four babies born with a heart defect has a “critical CHD.” Those babies need surgery or other procedures by the time they turn 1-year-old, according to the CDC.

Some CHDs are detected during the mother’s pregnancy or at birth, but sometimes they are found later. Here are some signs and symptoms of CHDs to look out for:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Blue-tinted nails or lips
  • Fast or troubled breathing
  • Tiredness when feeding
  • Sleepiness

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