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February Is American Heart Month

Rosanne Ullman | February 3, 2014 | 3:52 PM

February Is American Heart MonthAll of those hearts we see in February promoting Valentine’s Day also remind us to take care of our own hearts, as February also is American Heart Month. A lot of salons will have stylists wearing red on February 7, which Go Red for Women has designated as this year’s National Wear Red Day to raise awareness about heart health. Heart disease remains the #1 cause of death among women, but the fight is making progress.

For one thing, people are smoking less and less. In the first year after you quit smoking, your risk for a heart attack drops dramatically, according to Brian Tiep, M.D., director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation at City of Hope.

“Early benefits on heart rate and blood pressure are rather immediate,” Tiep says. Within just two to five years after quitting, the risk for a stroke tends to fall to about the same risk faced by nonsmokers, he adds. Dr. Tiep says smoking affects the heart by:

*Increasing blood pressure and heart rate
*Increasing blood clotting
*Decreasing oxygen to the heart
*Damaging cells that line coronary arteries and other blood vessels
*Lowering HDL, the “good” cholesterol
*Damaging heart muscle

These factors increase the risk of coronary heart disease which over time, can lead to chest pain, heart failure, arrhythmia, heart attack and even death. Read the full article at cityofhope.org.

Add some exercise and healthy eating, and you’ll cut your risk even more. Try this yummy heart-healthy side dish from the American Heart Association, and find other ‘heartful” recipes at goredforwomen.org.

BAKED SWEET POTATOES AND APPLES 

Cooking spray
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
2 medium sweet apples, peeled, each sliced into 10 wedges
3 tbsp light tub margarine

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 1½-quart glass casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon.
3. In a casserole dish, layer in order: half each of the sweet potatoes, apples and cinnamon-sugar. Dot with about half the margarine. Repeat.
4. Bake, covered, for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes and apples are soft.

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