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DOH-Flagler Encourages Heart-Healthy Lifestyle for American Heart Month

By Gretchen Smith

February 05, 2019


Bunnell, Fla.— February marks the beginning of American Heart Month, a federally designated month that reminds Americans to commit to a healthy lifestyle and improve the health of their hearts. By making lifestyle changes and eliminating their risk factors, Floridians can help fight heart disease, one of the deadliest diseases in the state and nation among both men and women.

National trends show heart disease death rates are declining more slowly than they have in the past, especially among adults ages 35 to 64. In many communities across the U.S., death rates are increasing among adults in this age group. Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, tobacco use and high cholesterol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that roughly half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

“Although the treatment of heart disease has improved dramatically in the last few decades, we still have a way to go in terms of prevention,” said DOH-Flagler Medical Director Stephen Bickel, M.D. “Five simple but powerful measures can have profound and positive impacts on heart health and overall quality of life. Anyone can implement them if they just apply themselves.”

According to Bickel and his DOH colleagues, Flagler residents can help reduce the incidence of heart disease by taking the following five steps:

Quitting Smoking: Cigarette smoking or using tobacco greatly increases your risk for heart disease;

  • Increasing your physical activity: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels;
  • Controlling your blood pressure: High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so you need to make sure to have it checked on a regular basis;
  • Knowing your cholesterol: Your health care provider should test your blood levels of cholesterol at least once every five years; and
  • Eating heart healthy foods: Choosing healthful meal and snack options can help you avoid heart disease and its complications. Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods.

For information about implementing these measures, please contact your health care provider or visit the Florida Department of Health website at


About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

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For information about the local health department, go to, call 386-437-7350, or visit the office at 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell.