LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - For the past 57 years, February has been recognized as American Heart Month. It aims to spread awareness about heart disease which remains the greatest health threat in the U.S.
While some genetic factors remain out of a person's control, health officials say that they are things you can do to prevent heart disease. A key to taking care of your heart is maintaining a good diet. Getting up and active can also lower your chances of poor heart health. You also want to avoid smoking and heavy alcohol consumption as those things can contribute to heart disease.
"Keep track of your numbers in regards to your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol, then get some guidelines or recommendations on what to do to improve those numbers. In this month of February when we're celebrating Heart Month, I want people out there to take their health seriously," said Dr. Nkechi Ijioma of Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse.
Friday is National Wear Red Day in honor of women who suffer from heart disease. 1-in-3 women die from heart disease each year. More young women than men are having heart attacks. New data shows that Gen-Z and millennial women are less likely to be aware of this health threat.
One La Crosse woman is currently recovering from heart disease. However, her case is a little uncommon. 86-year-old Teresa Heberlein contracted COVID-19 back in November. That positive case left her heart working at only 30 percent. Health officials say about 6 percent of people have cardiovascular problems because of COVID-19.
Heberlein is doing workouts twice a week at Mayo to take control of her heart health. Although she's nearing the end of her recovery process, she says that she will keep taking precautions to make sure she does not go through this ordeal again.
"They say you're immune after you've had COVID, but I don't care. I'm still going to wear my mask. I'm going to try to protect everyone else and do the best that I can for everyone including my loved ones, neighbors, and even people down the street," said Heberlein.
Heberlein's heart is currently working at 50 percent. She encourages everyone to eat their vegetables, go on walks, and take care of their physical health. She said that once the pandemic is over, she wants to take dance classes at the Concordia Ballroom in La Crosse as a way to keep her heart healthy.
For more information and resources on how you can maintain good heart health, you can head to the American Association's website.