FORT LEE, Va. -- Kenner Army Health Clinic’s commitment to its beneficiaries is to provide access to high-quality health care while empowering patients to take the steps necessary for leading a happy, healthy lifestyle.

February is American Heart Month and the perfect opportunity for patients to energize their bodies and minds by paying attention to one of their most important “engines” – the heart.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is still the leading cause of death for men and women. The numbers reflect 1- in-every-4 deaths are due to this ailment. Heart disease complications last year accounted for the untimely death of some notable people. Americans are at the greatest risk for complications due to other medical conditions. Although not everyone with other medical conditions and poor dietary habits will experience heart disease, a healthier lifestyle may reduce other factors that influence heart disease complications.

Kenner providers recommend patients get an annual health checkup. One of the first steps to maintaining a healthy heart is to understand how to keep it in top form.

Learn to recognize the early signs and symptoms of stroke and heart attacks. The American Heart Association website has information on many different types of complications associated with heart disease. Typical warning signs are chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations and even fatigue.

Warning signs for women may differ, and staying in “tune” with one’s body may help individuals recognize other warning signs. The “Go Red for Women” campaign has a website to educate women by sharing personal stories of heart attack and stroke survivors. Unfortunately, there are just as many myths in regards to heart disease as there are facts based in research.

“Many patients miss the warning signs or think I am just getting older,” said Stephen P. Boychuck, MSN, FNP. “If you are experiencing a decrease in your exercise tolerance, are getting easily fatigued doing your normal activities, get short of breath walking up a flight of stairs, please see your provider.”

The American Heart Association website at https://www.heart.org/en is a great resource showing popular topics – TIA, Cardiac Catheter, Cholesterol, Heart Attack and Stents. Cardiovascular disease is complex. There are many factors that contribute to heart disease.

Know your risk for heart disease. Call for a referral or schedule preventive health screenings for colon cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer, diabetes and other preventive health services.

Discuss risk factors with your provider and learn which ones can be modified. There are some ways to stay on top of your own health.

Know your cholesterol numbers. High cholesterol contributes to a build-up of plaque along the walls of arteries that can interfere with blood supply to the heart. This condition can lead to reduced blood flow, which could put you at risk. Know your numbers for “good” and “bad” cholesterol and know what you can do to manage blood pressure, blood sugar and weight. We all memorize numbers every day. Do we take the time to know the numbers that impact our lives?

Check your blood sugar with an A1C test at least annually. Diabetic complications can seriously impact health and lead to heart complications.

Monitor your weight. Take advantage of KAHC resources. We have a full-time dietician. The clinic has an outstanding Army Wellness Centers on Mahone Avenue. The AWC is of no cost for beneficiaries.

Stop smoking. The provider team can help you enroll in the smoking cessation class offered by the clinic.

With a few changes to everyday activities, we can show one of our most vital organs – our hearts – some extra love this month. Make your medical appointment today; scheduling an appointment with Kenner is quick and easy.

Patients have the option of scheduling appointments in one of two ways. TRICARE Online Patient Portal, available 365/24/7 at www.tricareonline.com for self-service and is a convenient and easy way to book an appointment.

Beneficiaries also can call the Patient Appointment Line at 1-866-LEE-KAHC (533-5242) from 7 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday - Friday.