How is your heart health?

Even as the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the country in recent years, the leading cause of death in the United States remained unchanged: heart disease. February is designated as American Heart Month to address this ongoing public health challenge by raising awareness of heart-healthy behaviors and encouraging all Americans to focus on their cardiovascular health.

Professor David Jacobs provides expert commentary on how Minnesotans could better understand risk factors and take other steps to improve their cardiovascular health.

David Jacobs

“The risk of cardiovascular disease in middle and older age begins in childhood, which is also the time when we develop many of the habits that directly affect heart health. In general, people should be aware of four behavioral risk factors that are most important to their cardiovascular health:

  • Do not smoke: It’s especially important to get through your teenage years without planting the seeds of this addiction.
  • Diet: Optimal nutrition is plant-centric and includes plenty of nutrient-dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beverages like water, coffee, and tea.
  • Physical Activity: A lifetime of physical activity often begins in childhood and culminates in a walking program for many older adults.
  • Social Connections: Maintaining strong social connections with friends and family is important for overall health.

These four steps are key to supporting cardiovascular health and reducing your chance of developing heart disease that could lead to a heart attack.”

David Jacobs is the Mayo Professor of Public Health in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. His research focuses on epidemiology of cardiovascular and chronic diseases as well as nutritional epidemiology. Professor Jacobs participates in a number of ongoing long-term studies of cardiovascular health, diet and chronic disease.

About the School of Public Health
The University of Minnesota School of Public Health improves the health and well-being of populations and communities around the world by applying innovative research, learning and concrete action to address today’s greatest health challenges. We prepare some of the most influential leaders in this field and work with health officials, communities and policymakers to advance health equity for all. Learn more at


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