Department of Health encourages New Mexicans to listen to their heart

February is American Heart Month

Santa Fe, NM – February marks American Heart Month, and the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is raising awareness about the risks everyone faces for heart disease and stroke.

  • One out of every three women in America die from heart disease and stroke—more than all cancers combined.
  • Approximately 4,000 New Mexicans die every year from heart disease and stroke.
  • Heart disease is consistently the first or second leading cause of death among both women and men in New Mexico annually. Stroke has been the 5th leading cause.

“One of the most important ways for New Mexicans to get heart-healthy is to learn about risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Both are strongly tied to personal health habits and family medical histories,” said Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher. “We encourage everyone to know their cardiovascular risk, wear red on National Wear Red Day, and encourage their friends and loved ones to take action to live longer, healthier lives.”

Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Well-known risk factors which can be controlled and may help prevent or delay heart disease include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking and second hand smoke exposure
  • Diabetes and prediabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Excessive alcohol use

Other factors to consider are:

  • Older age. For men and women alike, the risk of coronary heart disease increases with age, with significant increase after age 45.
  • A family history of early coronary heart disease is a risk factor for developing coronary heart disease, specifically if a father or brother is diagnosed before age 55, or a mother or sister is diagnosed before age 65.

Among these risk factors, the percentage of adult New Mexicans with high blood pressure has steadily increased, with 30 percent of adults reporting they had high blood pressure in 2015. Also, nearly 65 percent of adults in New Mexico were overweight or obese in 2015, and nearly 12 percent of adults statewide have been diagnosed with diabetes – both of which often contribute to higher rates of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.

The Department of Health’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program is committed to helping New Mexico adults improve their cardiovascular health, through theMillion Hearts® Initiative. Million Hearts® is a national initiative created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2011 that works with providers and health systems in our state to support improved clinical quality care and empower communities to make healthy choices.

To learn more about Million Hearts®, visit http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/learn-prevent/index.html. You can find additional details about heart disease in New Mexico at https://nmtracking.org/health/cardio/HeartAttack.html.