February is American Heart Month

This post is an excerpt from NMDOH’s news release “Wear red for Women’s Heart Health Friday, February 2nd” on February 1, 2024.

February is American Heart Month, a time to pay special attention to heart health, particularly for women as cardiovascular disease is a major health concern for women.

Risk Factors:

In 2021, heart disease was the leading cause of death in New Mexico. Many risk factors, like high blood pressure and cholesterol, can be managed or prevented with lifestyle changes and medication.

Drinking, smoking, and recreational drug use is linked to premature heart disease in young people, particularly younger women. Heavy drinking can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or stroke. Excessive drinking can also lead to cardiomyopathy, a weakening of the heart muscles and an irregular heartbeat.  

Smoking is a greater risk factor for women than it is for men. Any amount of smoking, even occasional smoking, can cause damage to the heart and blood vessels and cause plaque to build up in the arteries. For women who use birth control pills, smoking poses an even greater risk.  

Even secondhand smoke can damage the heart and blood vessels of people who don’t smoke in the same ways that smoking causes damage to people who do.  

Additional steps you can take to improve heart health: 

Healthy eating: 

  • Choose whole grains. 
  • Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet. 
  • Select minimally processed foods. 
  • Cut down on salt. 

Physical activity: 

  • Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. 
  • Move throughout the day. 
  • Engage in moderate to high intensity muscle strengthening activity at least twice a week. 

Fight stress: 

  • Plan ahead so you don’t have to rush. 
  • Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. 
  • Practice mindfulness to reduce stress. 

For more information:

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