Make Your Heart Happy by Focusing on Your Cardiovascular Health 

Your heart health matters. February marks American Heart Month, a time to make your heart happy by focusing on your cardiovascular health and spreading awareness.

As the leading cause of death in the U.S., heart disease could affect you or someone you love. Sadly – it is the leading cause of death in Arizona, too.

Fast facts from the Arizona Department of Health Services:

  • Nationally, one person dies from heart disease every 36 seconds.
  • Each year, there are more than 50,000 hospitalizations related to heart disease in Arizona.
  • Each year, there are nearly 10,000 deaths related to heart disease in Arizona.

Heart disease can mean many different things. It refers to several types of heart conditions, but the most common type of heart disease in the U.S. is coronary artery disease (CAD) which impacts the blood flow to the heart. Decreased blood flow can cause a heart attack.

Heart disease signs and symptoms

These are some of the common symptoms according to the CDC. Symptoms may not be noticeable at first but worsen over time. Heart disease is sometimes not diagnosed until a person experiences signs of a heart attack, heart failure, or an arrhythmia.

  • Heart attack: Chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness, and shortness of breath.
  • Arrhythmia: Fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations).
  • Heart failure: Shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.

Heart disease and diabetes

Having diabetes means you are more at risk of developing heart disease.

Why? Because high blood sugar can damage blood vessels and the nerves that control your heart over time. People with diabetes are also more likely to have other conditions that raise the risk for heart disease, like high blood pressure.

If you have diabetes, you can lower your risk and take care of your heart health in three ways: managing your blood sugar, controlling your high blood pressure, and controlling high cholesterol.

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, and smoking are the top risk factors for heart disease.


At risk or not, there are steps everyone can take to prevent or manage heart problems.

  • Move your body: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, decrease stress, and lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The Surgeon General recommends 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate exercise every week, like walking or bicycling. That breaks down to 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week.
  • Drink and eat with health in mind: Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. Need help figuring out your next meal and portion size? MyPlate has you covered.
  • Quit smoking: Arizona Smoker’s Helpline (AshLine) can help you get started. Call 800-556-6222, or visit this link for more information. Just one year after you stop smoking, your risk of heart disease will have dropped by 50 percent.

We hope you spend this month, and every month, making your heart happy by keeping it healthy.


This information is provided for educational purposes only. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare providers regarding medical care or treatment, as recommendations, services or resources are not a substitute for the advice or recommendation of an individual's physician or healthcare provider. Services or treatment options may not be covered under an individual's particular health plan.