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From the NFH Team

February has been designated American Heart Month since Congress adopted it in 1963 at the request of the American Heart Association. Itís not by accident that the AHA wants us to be aware of our hearts during the month of love and Valentineís. In honor of our hearts, do you know what shape your heart is in?First, some scary numbers: Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the U.S. According to the AHA, as of 2007, one in 2.9 deaths in the U.S. is the result of heart disease. One person dies every 39 seconds; 2,200 deaths occur every day from this disease.The worst part? The risk factors have been known for a long time ñ hypertension (high blood pressure), smoking, diabetes and obesity ñ most of which are controllable by behavior. Despite all efforts in educating the public, the statistics from 2008 note about 23 percent of men and 18 percent of women continue to smoke. More than 19 percent of children in grades 9 through 12 report tobacco use.Rates of diabetes and obesity in both adults and children continue to spiral upward. Statistics in 2008 indicate 8 percent of the adult population has diagnosed diabetes mellitus; more than 33 percent of adults are obese; about 32 percent of children age 2 to 19 years are overweight and obese.Iím guilty as charged ñ I love a good steak, butter on my popcorn, any kind of chocolate (and lots of it) and am convinced I am allergic to exercise (I get short of breath, red in the face and break out in a sweat just like I do during an allergy attack!).As we Americans wear our hearts on our sleeves in honor of Valentineís Day, we would also do well to be aware of our own heart and how to care for it. After all, if you havenít got a heart Ö youíre not much good to those loved ones, said the Tin Man (ìThe Wizard of Ozî). The heart is the force behind how long weíll live to enjoy our love-wrapped relationships.So, instead of indulging your sweetie on Valentineís Day with a box of chocolates, a 12 oz. rib-eye steak and a loaded baked potato, maybe take a long walk together after enjoying a large salad and a broiled chicken breast. OK, maybe not. After all itís only one day, right?Have a great February, take care of your heart and weíll see you in March!– Deb, Michelle and the NFH team

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