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Prioritize Cardiac Health During American Heart Month

Two men walking on a path.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. All year long, Atrium Health Navicent provides excellent health care to help those with heart conditions live their best lives, but during American Heart Month, observed each February, the health system also asks the community to join in the effort to raise awareness for heart health.


The CDC estimates 695,000 people in the U.S. die of heart disease each year – approximately 1 in every 5 deaths. Deaths related to heart disease are particularly high in Georgia and the Southeast, which is why taking care of your heart through healthy habits and regular examinations is key to prevention. Here are a few things you can do today to help prevent heart disease:

  • Eat foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, trans fat and cholesterol.

  • Limit sodium and sugar intake.

  • Moderate alcohol intake. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women no more than one drink per day.

  • Get plenty of physical activity to help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Adults should get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every week. 

  • Quit smoking. Cigarette smoking greatly increases your risk for heart disease. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit.

  • Keep up with your annual wellness visits. Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and other indicators, which could prevent you from facing increased risk of heart disease and heart attack.

  • Consider getting an Angioscreen to better understand your risk of heart disease.


“The heart is the engine of the body. Just like you don’t keep driving your car without getting its oil changed every 3,000-5,000 miles, you need to get your heart checked out by your primary care physician and your cholesterol checked at least annually,” said Dr. Erskine James, an Atrium Health Navicent cardiologist. “Making a few simple lifestyle changes can make an incredible impact on your heart health, both today and for years into the future.”


For those facing heart disease, Atrium Health Navicent offers world-class health care close to home at the Atrium Health Navicent Luce Heart Institute. Atrium Health Navicent is one of only four hospital systems in the nation — and the only one in Georgia — to receive the triple crown of heart accreditations by the American College of Cardiology. These designations include Chest Pain Center with Primary PCI Accreditation, Heart Failure Accreditation and Atrial Fibrillation with EPS Accreditation.


Atrium Health Navicent was one of the first in the region to implement the use of the Watchman device for people with Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). Patients with AFib, which is an abnormal heart rhythm, are at risk for developing blood clots if not treated with blood thinners. Some patients can’t tolerate blood thinners, and that’s where this procedure provides life- saving benefits.


The Watchman procedure is one of several ways patients can get specialized care at the Structural Heart and Valve Clinic at Atrium Health Navicent, one of only two such clinics south of Atlanta, and the only one in our region to offer Transaortic Valve Replacement (TAVR). This non-surgical procedure allows a crimped-down valve to be inserted through a tube into the heart to replace a failing aortic valve. Once in place, the valve opens and functions like a healthy valve.


The Atrium Health Navicent Luce Heart Institute, located at Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center, has a helipad and quick access to Interstate 75, making it easily accessible for patients and their family members. For patients recovering from heart attacks or heart surgery, Atrium Health Navicent Heart & Vascular Care's Ventricular Assist Device (VAD) program has a multidisciplinary team of surgeons, counselors, nurses, dieticians and therapists to take care of VAD patients. It’s one of only two such programs south of Atlanta.


To find a doctor, visit and click “Find A Doctor.”


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