Protecting your heart on Valentine's Day and year-round

By Audrey Wise

February 14, 2014 Updated Feb 15, 2014 at 12:12 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill -- Local cardiologist Dr. Darrel Gumm says everyday is Valentine's day for heart doctors because they are always trying to protect the heart.

February is Heart Health month.

Dr. Gumm said it is important to pay attention to your risks and symptoms because heart disease is the number one killer of women.

Classic symptoms of a heart attack include squeezing or tightness of the chest, but many symptoms can be less noticeable.

"I remember years ago, a woman came in who had had a heart attack, her symptoms were so vague and I said to her 'what was it that even made you go to the hospital?' and she told me I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew I wasn't right," he said.

Genetics play a large par, but by not smoking, exercising, and eating a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet you can reduce your heart disease risks.

"Maybe you're not a drippy-wet with sweat kind of a person, who wants to have that kind of a workout, that's okay, go for a walk. I often tell patients, start slow and easy, build up over time, but shoot for a 30 or 45 minute walk 5 days a week. It pays off with a big cardiovascular benefit," added Dr. Gumm.

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