Heart disease is the number one killer in America and in South Dakota.  Every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one person every minute will die from one. 

We shouldn’t need a special month designated to help raise awareness for a disease that impacts 82.6 million Americans, but February is indeed American Heart Month.  There are a lot of stereotypes about heart disease, but many are wrong.  Half of those who suffer from heart disease are younger than 60.  It’s also the number one killer among women.  On average, nearly 3 women die from heart disease and stroke in South Dakota each day. 

We all have a loved one who has been a victim of heart disease.  It crosses gender, ethnic, socio-economic, and geographical boundaries.  That’s why it is so important to raise awareness.    Some South Dakota communities are doing just that.  Women in Sioux Falls held a “Go Red” event just last week to help educate, inspire and raise awareness for the disease among women.

The reality is that we can beat heart disease, but it’s not going to be through a piece of legislation we pass out in Washington or through a resolution in Pierre.  We can beat heart disease through prevention.  We need to live healthier, starting right now.  The American Heart Association has seven simple recommendations: 1. Get Active; 2. Eat Better; 3. Lose Weight; 4. Stop Smoking; 5. Control Cholesterol; 6. Manage Blood Pressure; and 7. Reduce Blood Sugar.

We are all different and some might need to focus more on certain steps than others, but it’s a good place to start the conversation.  I’ve had heart disease impact my family in previous generations despite the fact that we have been active working the land.  Regardless, we’re going to start a new tradition of eating and living healthier.  Prevention is the key. 


Rep. Kristi Noem is South Dakota’s lone U.S. Representative, elected in November 2010.  She serves on the Education and Workforce and Natural Resources Committees.



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