Health awareness is always an emphasis at Martine Center, but in February we join the rest of the country in paying special attention to heart health. The last two weeks of February are the community-themed and online-themed heart health weeks, so we’ve decided to reach out beyond our walls to our online community.

Heart disease is a concern at any age. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease apply to half of all Americans (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking). Many factors can be related and can, therefore, occur simultaneously. For instance, lack of physical activity can contribute to obesity, and both of those factors can lead to high cholesterol.

We would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that some heart health issues are the result of congenital abnormalities. Congenital heart disease (congenital heart defect) occurs in a variety of manners which can range from simple to complex, but all are conditions present at birth that can alter the way that blood flows through your heart.

The good news is that you have control over many heart health factors. Regardless of whether we’re discussing acquired or congenital heart conditions, the key to combating major heart complications is to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle and to participate in routine medical checkups. Smoking, in addition to the other major medical conditions to which it contributes, is a tremendously negative factor in heart health.

As mentioned above, diet and exercise are not only capable of improving heart health, but also help us to avoid significant heart disease factors like obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. If you’re not already taking steps to keep your heart healthy, February is a great time to start.