Each February, American Heart Month brings awareness to an important and often overlooked crisis: heart health, heart attacks and cardiovascular disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among both men and women in the U.S., according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Another eye-opening statistic? Every year, heart disease is responsible for one of every four deaths nationwide.
Heart attacks can happen to almost anyone — no matter age, gender, diet or fitness level. This is something that some celebrities — including Bob Harper, Kevin Smith, Susan Lucci and Rosie O’Donnell — know all too well. But while those stars were unfortunate enough to have a major cardiovascular event (whether a heart attack or emergency heart surgery to prevent cardiac arrest), they were also lucky enough to survive. Now, they’re using their Hollywood platforms to help spread awareness with inspirational stories, real talk about symptoms and health advice.
The good news about heart disease is that you can take action to help lower your odds of developing it. Besides maintaining cholesterol levels and getting screenings to check for blockages in arteries, these actions mainly involve general wellness: tweaking your diet to add healthier foods starting at breakfast, getting your blood pumping by fitting more exercise and movement into your day and managing stress levels.
The American Heart Association offers easy tips for small things you can do every day to help lower your risk of heart disease and strokes. Among their best pieces of advice: Walk at least 20 minutes a day, drink at least one cup of coffee a week, make sure you get plenty of fiber (read: fruit and vegetables) in your diet, aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night and try to lower stress levels (fun fact: according to the org, hugging helps!).
Below, find out what celebrities have survived heart attacks and read about their efforts to help fight for the health of your ticker.