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Column: February is American Heart Month- Know your risk factors
by Jennifer Shannon, PharmD
February 20, 2013 12:12 PM | 2577 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease or coronary heart disease, continues to remain the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States.

It is a term used to describe several heart problems including hypertension, high cholesterol, heart failure and arrhythmias (irregular heart rhythms), which may increase a person’s risk for heart attack or stroke.

Each year, cardiovascular disease leads to over 600,000 deaths in our country and this number continues to rise.

As a pharmacist, I am constantly faced with the challenge of educating my patients on the importance of prevention and proper management with medications, exercise and a proper diet.

Although the thought of heart disease can be frightening, I try to remind my patients of simple steps that can be taken to prevent or manage heart disease.

During American Heart Month, I challenge each of you to take a few moments to think about your own lifestyles and risk factors for heart disease.

While certain risk factors such as age or family history cannot be controlled, others can.

Be honest with yourself and your daily choices. Are you exercising regularly and choosing heart-healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish high in omega-3 fatty acids? Have you been toying with the idea of smoking cessation? Does heart disease run in your family or are you currently taking medications for a certain heart condition, but occasionally miss a dose?

Take the time to think about how you can make gradual changes and talk with your doctor and pharmacist.

Many physicians and pharmacists offer smoking cessation assistance. They can also work together to help you better understand your medications and how to take them and assist you in making better lifestyle choices to keep you and your family heart healthy.

*Dr. Shannon serves as an Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice and an Ambulatory Care Pharmacist in the community. This summer, she will be opening Lily’s Pharmacy of Alpharetta, named for her daughter, located in the historic downtown district. Her areas of special interest include anticoagulation, cholesterol management, diabetes, heart failure and hypertension.
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