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DOH-Marion encourages commitment to heart-healthy lifestyle for American Heart Month

By Florida Department of Health in Marion County

February 11, 2019


OCALA, Fla.—Hearts aren’t just for Valentine’s Day; the Florida Department of Health in Marion County celebrates hearts, or more specifically, heart health, all month long during February. February is American Heart Month and a great time to assess the health of your heart and build heart-healthy habits into your daily life.

Health professionals focus on heart health as a top priority because heart disease is one of the deadliest diseases in the state and nation among both men and women. 

“In 2017 Marion County had the 12th highest rate of heart disease-related deaths in the state,” said Florida Department of Health in Marion County Health Officer Mark Lander. “While our county and the state were on a positive trend downward for heart disease until 2009, we’re unfortunately seeing heart disease death-related numbers going upward again.”

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 estimates that roughly half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.

Fortunately, there are several basic steps that you can take to improve your heart health: 

  • Quit smoking: Cigarette smoking or using tobacco greatly increases your risk for heart disease.
  • Increase your physical activity: Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels.
  • Control your blood pressure: High blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so you need to make sure to have it checked on a regular basis.
  • Know your cholesterol: Your health care provider should test your blood levels of cholesterol at least once every five years.
  • Eat 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.

You can find out more about how to make simple lifestyle changes to improve your heart disease or other chronic disease at community classes hosted by the Florida Department of Health in Marion County. Contact Demi Danso at 352-644-2618 for information on upcoming classes starting in March. Visit to learn more about other resources that can be used to prevent heart disease.