Be Smart and Take Good Care of Your Heart

February 9, 2016

Melanie Raynor

February is National Heart Month and we’re constantly reminded during the month that heart disease is the number one killer among women. Do you really understand that fact? I know I do. It hits home with me. I was only nineteen years old when my mother died of a heart attack. She became a statistic on a fall evening a little more than fourteen years ago.

It wasn’t long after I lost my mother that I put together my first team to walk in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk. Throughout the years, my family and friends have helped me raise money and spread awareness of this disease that affects a significant number of women every year.

During February, I usually evaluate what I’m doing (or not doing) to keep my heart healthy, because of my family history. Not only did my mother die of a heart attack at the age of 50, but my grandfather also died of a heart attack at the age of 48.  

So this year, what am I doing right? No. 1 - I do not smoke. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, even smoking less than five cigarettes a day can result in early signs of heart disease.

No. 2 - I eat healthy (most of the time). I try to eat a balanced meal with fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I also keep an eye on added salt and sugar.

No. 3 - I’m physically active, chasing around my 2 ½ year old son Owen, and nine-month old daughter Brooklynn.

No. 4 - I know my numbers. I know my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, important markers to identify heart health. My children need a healthy mother, and I plan to do everything within my control to make sure I am here for them at their college graduations, weddings and the birth of their children – all the things I wish that my mother had been around to celebrate with me. 

Each of these important lifestyle habits can help lower my risk of developing heart disease. I can’t change my genetics, but I can certainly make choices that have a positive impact on my health and how I feel.

As we continue to celebrate American Heart Month, I urge you to take control of your heart health. Know what your numbers are and talk to your physician about any risk factors you may have.  Quit smoking, eat a little healthier and exercise a little more.  Little changes can go a long way!  You only have one heart, so be smart!

Melanie Raynor is the Marketing coordinator at Wilson Medical Center.