FT. WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Each year approximately 1.5 million adults in the United States have a heart attack. Of these, nearly 30 people die every hour from a heart attack. For those who survive a heart attack, it can mean life-long disability and an increased financial burden on the family related to medical costs and possible loss of employment.

It is easy to let life get in the way and forget to take care of ourselves. The kids, work, errands and household duties often become a priority over health, but during the month of February, as we recognize Heart Health Month, our staff at preventive medicine encourage you to take a look at how you treat yourself and how you can help prevent yourself from becoming a heart attack victim.

There are some simple things that you can do to prevent a heart attack. The first is to see your health care provider and discuss your risk factors. Have them check your blood pressure and if it is high discuss the options for lowering it. Ask them to run lab work and find out what your cholesterol levels are. This includes your LDL (bad cholesterol), HDL (good cholesterol) and your Triglycerides. Once you have those numbers work with your physician on ways to make those numbers rock.

Next, add exercise to your daily routine. While this may sound daunting, just 30 minutes a day spread out over the day in five to 10 minutes increments can decrease the risk of heart attack by 21% in men and 29% in woman.

Eating a balanced diet is also an excellent way to lower your risk of heart attack. Sodas and fried foods may be difficult to give up, but your health is worth it. By eating a balanced diet you can reduce your risk of heart attack by 20%. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension Diet (DASH) is a wonderful way to begin the journey to a healthier heart and a healthier you.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, quitting the use of tobacco will lead to a healthier heart. Quitting tobacco is not an easy task, but by taking advantage of online and Ft. Wainwright programs that are available to you, it is achievable. One of every three heart attack deaths can be directly linked to tobacco use. By stopping tobacco use, you reduce your risk of heart attack not only for you, but for your loved ones as well. Studies show that between 22,000 to 69,000 heart attack deaths reported each year are attributed to second hand smoke.

Take control of your health so that it does not control you. If you would like help with diet, exercise, or quitting tobacco, please contact the Army Wellness Center at (907) 361-2234 or make an appointment with your physician to discuss your options.