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Senator GibsonBy:  Audrey Gibson, State Senator and Paralegal, Terrell Hogan

The first Valentine’s Day cards and letters exchange appear to have taken place in Great Britain, during the 17th century.  Sometime in the 1840’s, the first US mass produced Valentine’s Day cards emerged. Today in the United States, some 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are produced along with 35 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate, 220 million roses, and about $4 billion spent on trinkets!

The figures are mind boggling but pale in comparison to the value of your heart.

February Begins the Month-long Focus on Heart Health

American Heart AssociationAccording to the American Heart Association, the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting against heart disease and stroke, cardiovascular diseases including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure and stroke collectively remain the leading cause of death in the world and the United States.  Further, diabetes and obesity both contribute to the rising number of patients who acquire heart failure.

As part of its public outreach, the association has developed what it calls “Life’s Simple 7,” which can help individuals look at their own lifestyle to reduce risk for heart disease, stroke and other health issues.  “Life’s Simple 7,” includes non-smoking, staying physically active, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a normal body weight, and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

How do you measure up?  Are you active or a couch potato? Do you consume several sugary or high sodium drinks every day?  Add more salt to your food?

Want to get active, eat better and drink more reasonably?  Well here’s some food for thought:  African Americans have a higher rate occurrence of diabetes than any ethnic group, and 13.2% of all African Americans aged 20 years or older have diagnosed diabetes. Of African Americans age 20 and older, 63 percent of men and 77 percent of women are overweight or obese. The prevalence of high blood pressure in African Americans is the highest in the world.  During heart health month, show yourself a little love!