Throughout the month of February, organizations and families across the country participate in American Heart Month. From wearing red or changing lifestyle habits, there are many ways for South Dakotans to get involved to help combat the number one killer of men and women.
Heart disease claims the lives of 600,000 Americans every year -- that's one out of every four deaths. While the most common type is coronary heart disease, the term "heart disease" refers to several types of heart conditions, including heart attacks. Although usually associated with men, heart disease actually kills more women each year. Approximately 42.9 million women are currently living with some form of the disease.
As startling as these statistics may be, there is good news. Heart disease can be prevented and controlled through a series of common sense steps. The Center for Disease Control recommends that individuals start by taking small steps towards a healthier lifestyle -- like eating more fruits and vegetables, reading nutrition labels and exercising five times per week. Commitment to these few steps will allow families across South Dakota to make big changes to their health.
In addition to closely monitoring dietary and exercise patterns, it's also important to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol and a stable blood pressure. Many drug stores now often free blood pressure screenings, but for the most accurate test, make an appointment with your family physician for these simple tests.
Earlier this month, I joined with a bipartisan group of women from both the House and Senate in wearing red to support women currently living with heart disease. Prevention of heart disease is an issue that can unite people from all walks of life. As a mom, I want my kids to make healthy and smart decisions for their health. As a daughter, I want to make sure my mom is taking care of herself as well.
Here's the hard truth: changing one's lifestyle isn't an easy task. It takes an incredible amount of dedication and determination to correct years of bad habits. As South Dakotans, we can take this journey together. Prevention starts with everyone and we all have a role to play.
I hope you'll join me in wearing red and educating others about the effects of heart disease. It's more important than ever that we turn our voices into action and push back against this disease that's taken the lives of too many friends and families.
If you have a unique story about how heart disease has affected you, please contact one of my offices to share your story. I would love to hear from you. Contact information for my offices is listed below:
Sioux Falls: 605-275-2868 / Watertown: 605-878-2868 / Aberdeen: 605-262-2862 / Rapid City: 605-791-4673 / Washington, D.C.: 202-225-2801 / Toll-Free: 1-855-225-2801