By Jena Williams

Okay, maybe not the frilly, paper ones, but instead the one that’s beat, beat, beating inside your chest.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but heart disease is preventable and controllable.”

Trivia Test – Who dies more often of heart disease – Men or Women?

If you guessed women, then you’d be correct. Heart disease is a little sneakier in women because their symptoms are harder to diagnose.  Since women’s symptoms aren’t the classic intense pain and pressure in the chest that men often experience, they need to be even more proactive in addressing heart disease prevention.

So what can you do to prevent heart disease? Since stress can contribute to poor health in general, let’s not add to it by a long list of changes that you must make TODAY. We all know that would be impossible anyway, but I think we’re all capable of committing (and sticking to) one small change to improve our health.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • If you are already exercising, spice it up with something new. Add 5 squats or lunges. Find new music. Or plank for an extra count to 10.
  • If you’re not exercising, then commit to parking at the furthest spot in the lot to add a few steps to your day.
  • Add one fruit or vegetable to your daily intake. Try a new fruit or vegetable (like persimmons, my current favorite.)
  • If you smoke, try smoking one less cigarette each day for a week, then two less, etc. You can do this!
  • Eat dark chocolate. Seriously! It’s an antioxidant and it lowers blood pressure!* Woohoo!

Will you share changes you’ve made in the comments?

So celebrate American Heart Month in February by taking care of yours so it’ll continue to beat, beat, beat.

Strategies from the Mayo Clinic to prevent heart disease: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease-prevention/ART-20046502

Link to information from the Mayo Clinic on heart disease in women: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-disease/in-depth/heart-disease/ART-20046167/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=housecall&pubDate=02%2f05%2f2014&7394517=1&pg=1

Link to information from the Mayo Clinic on disease prevention for men: http://www.mayoclinic.org/mens-health/ART-20047764

Link to CDC’s information on American Heart Month: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/HeartMonth/

*E-gah!! Here’s the fine print about eating in moderation and balancing your calories out so you don’t gain weight. (You knew it was coming, right?) More on benefits of dark chocolate: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate