February is Heart Healthy Month

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Heart disease kills close to 630,000 Americans every year. It is the most common cause of death, with one third of all American deaths being related to heart disease .

Often, college students believe they are exempt from discussions about heart disease, since they are young. However, this disease can hit people of any age, especially those who do not get into the habit of healthy eating and exercise. BYU professors shared the importance of developing healthy habits in recognition of February Heart Healthy Month.

Sabrina Jarvis, assistant teaching professor of nursing, knows young people can be hit by heart disease.

“We’re seeing problems in young adults,” she said. “I don’t think people understand the death rates.”

She also spoke of the importance of eating healthy.

“Good nutrition impacts physical, mental and spiritual wellness,” she said. “Use your calories to eat healthy — fruits and veggies, not sugary treats.”

She recognized students face challenges with demanding schedules.

“Balancing day and time schedules to allow you to eat well and exercise [is important],” she said. “Schedule time in your planner to do activities that will allow you to relax and allow you to bring your stress levels down. Exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym … You can get your exercise in a lot of ways you don’t think about.”

Ron Ulberg, an associate professor of nursing, addressed the importance of beginning healthy habits at a young age.

“We set a pattern for what we’re going to do,” he said.

He stressed the value of staying active.

“You don’t need to join a gym, but anything you can do to be a little more active [would help],” he said.

Renea Beckstrand, a professor in the nursing department, spoke about the importance of watching salt intake.

“For heart health, salt is a big deal,” she said. “When you get older, it’s even more important.”

High levels of salt increase the risk of stroke and heart disease, she said. It also increases the risk of high blood pressure.

In commemoration of the month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a website with tips to become more health aware. The site is: http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/.

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