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WVU Extension experts encouraged residents to take control of their heart health

Blood pressure reading taken with traditional blood pressure cuff

Morgantown, W.Va. – More than 610,000 die of heart disease in the United States every year. The number is shocking and includes many West Virginians—where heart disease is the number one cause of death.

During heart health month, West Virginia University Extension Service experts urge residents to take control of their health by starting to manage their personal heart disease risk factors.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, risk factors include tobacco use, alcohol abuse, family history, high blood pressure, diabetes, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and high cholesterol.

Despite somber statistics, 80 percent of deaths from heart disease could have been prevented, and the good news is simple steps toward living a healthy lifestyle can go a long way to a healthy heart.

“Residents need reliable educational resources that will help them take the necessary steps to lower their risk factors,” said former WVU Extension Health Promotion Specialist Elaine Bowen. “And WVU Extension Service is offering just that.”

West Virginians face a variety of barriers that prevent them from living a healthy lifestyle, such as caregiving burdens, lack of access to a personal health care provider and lack of formal exercise facilities; however, small changes in lifestyle can have a great impact on lowering heart disease risks.

Simple steps, like taking 10-minute walks, adding extra fruits and vegetables, lowering high-calorie drink intake, and adding nuts and seafood to your diet, can make a big difference when it comes to preventing heart disease.

Most important, individuals are encouraged to schedule an annual prevention exam with their health care provider. Individuals should know their health numbers, which include blood pressure, blood sugar, Body Mass Index, waist measurement and cholesterol. Remember to also ask your health care provider about family health history, recommended screening tests and what you can do to stay healthy.

Throughout February, WVU Extension Service county offices will be holding a variety of heart-health activities across the state, including health screenings and educational workshops. For a list of local events in your area, contact your local WVU Extension Service office. Also, catch our weekly heart-health tips on the WVU Extension Facebook page or follow us on Twitter.

Connecting the people of West Virginia to the University’s resources and programs is the primary goal of WVU Extension Service and its 55 offices throughout the state. Local experts, like WVU Extension’s agents and specialists, work to help improve the lifestyles and well-being of youths, workforces, communities, farms and businesses through trusted research in the counties in which they serve.

To learn more about WVU Extension programs, visit, or contact your local office of the WVU Extension Service.