By The University of Tennessee Medical Center
During the month of February, hearts are very popular. February is most commonly known as a month to celebrate loved ones during Valentine’s Day, but it’s also reserved for American Heart Month, a time to educate the public about heart disease. Killing approximately 2,300 people per day, and ranked as the number one cause of death of Americans, it is important to note that heart disease is preventable by making healthy life choices.
Dr. Anne Kassira, a cardiologist at The University of Tennessee Medical Center, shares some important tips on how to lower your risk for developing heart disease.
“Heart disease encompasses many different heart conditions including coronary artery disease, arrhythmias, angina, heart attack and stroke,” said Kassira. “Some of the risk factors for heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking, and almost half of all Americans have at least one of these three risk factors.”
According to Kassira, other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can put you at risk for heart disease include diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.
Additionally, women are adversely affected by heart disease.
“One in five women die from heart disease,” said Kassira. “Nearly 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented, yet cardiovascular diseases continue to be a woman’s greatest health threat.”
Kassira explains that National Wear Red Day takes place on February 5, 2021, and is an initiative created by the American Heart Association to increase women’s heart health awareness.
Kassira says men and women can experience similar symptoms of a heart attack, which can include the following:
Uncomfortable pressure, squeezing and pain in the center of the chest.
Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck jaw or stomach.
Shortness of breath.
“Heart disease is preventable through simple lifestyle changes that anyone can implement, as well as taking charge of any existing medical conditions,” said Kassira.
Choosing healthy foods and drinks, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and not smoking are some simple, yet effective choices you can make to decrease your chances of developing heart disease.
“If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, you can lower your risk for heart disease by regularly checking your cholesterol and blood pressure, monitoring your blood sugar and taking your medications as directed,” said Kassira.
Heart disease is something you can prevent, emphasizes Kassira.
“Take time to make an appointment with your physician to talk about any potential risk factors you may have,” said Kassira. “With guidance from your physician, create a proactive plan aimed at decreasing your chances of developing heart disease and make a commitment to put it to action.”
Kassira encourages that if you or a loved one need medical care, including preventative heart screenings or heart care, do not delay coming to the medical center or other facilities within UT Medical Center’s health care system.
“Despite COVID-19, our facilities are safe for patients to come in for a visit, and we offer telehealth services when possible,” said Kassira.

For reliable information on taking care of your health or a loved one’s health, contact UT Medical Center’s Health Information Center at 865.305.9525 or online at Staffed by medical librarians and certified health information specialists, the Health Information Center offers an extensive health library, digital and printed resources, walk-in assistance, and help with the research on specific health conditions – all free of charge and available to the public.