February is American Heart Month, and an ideal time to recognize and spread awareness about the factors that can lead to heart disease. In the United States, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but it can be prevented by taking steps to become healthier and more active.

There are a number of different health factors that can put men and women at risk for heart disease, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and lack of exercise. Studies have shown that women who have experienced menopause may be at even greater risk for heart disease as a result of having lower estrogen levels.

Regardless of whether women are experiencing fluctuations in estrogen levels or are taking hormone replacement therapy to regulate estrogen following menopause, here are some steps women can take to prevent heart disease and stay heart-healthy.

Undergo regular heart screenings

The American Heart Association recommends having cholesterol levels screened every five years, blood glucose every three years, blood pressure every two years, and body mass index (BMI) screened at every doctor’s visit to evaluate heart health. Regular heart screenings can help detect problems so that you and your healthcare provider can put preventive plans in place to avoid heart disease.

Exercise on a regular basis

Regular physical activity will help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels while also helping you maintain a healthy body weight. Women should try to exercise for at least 150 minutes per week or at least 30 minutes per day to maintain heart health and lower their risk for heart disease.

Eat healthy foods

Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts, and fish will naturally help stave off heart disease. Foods high in sugar and sodium will only increase your blood pressure, cholesterol, and body weight, and thus your risk of heart disease.

Maintain a positive attitude

According to research conducted by the American Heart Association, depression can put middle-aged women at double the normal risk for stroke and heart disease. Although menopause and aging can cause some women to feel depressed, it’s important to maintain a positive attitude and fill your life with enjoyable activities. On the plus side, eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis will naturally battle depression and make you feel more positive.

During the month of February, Rock Creek Wellness is offering $50 off advanced cardiovascular screenings that can detect signs of heart disease through a blood test and sonogram.