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 has been designated as American Heart Month in an effort to address this ongoing public health challenge by raising awareness about heart-healthy behaviors and encouraging all Americans to focus on their cardiovascular health.

Professor David Jacobs provides expert commentary on how Minnesota residents can be more aware of risk factors and take other steps to improve their cardiovascular health.

David Jacobs

“The risk of cardiovascular disease in middle age 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 is especially critical to negotiate your teenage years without planting the seeds of this addiction.
  • Eating pattern: An optimal diet is plant-based and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beverages such as water, coffee, and tea.
  • Fysical activity: A lifelong habit of physical activity often begins in childhood and culminates in a walking program in much older adults.
  • Social Connections: Maintaining strong social bonds with friends and family is important for overall health.

These four steps are essential for supporting a person’s cardiovascular health and reducing a person’s chances of developing heart disease that can lead to a heart attack.”

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

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 providing innovative research, learning, and concrete actions on today’s biggest health challenges. We are preparing some of the most influential leaders in the field and working with health departments, communities and policymakers to advance health equity for all. Learn more at

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