Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Heart disease is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the US every year, according to the CDC. February is American Heart Month and medical professionals use this time to raise awareness about heart health. 

“The heart remains the number one cause of death in the United States and industrialized countries.”

Doctor Mohamed Chebaclo a cardiologist with Marshfield Clinic says it’s important to listen to your heart.

“Our body always tries to tell us something, don’t ignore it. And be upfront about addressing it.”

And aside from the usual tools like an EKG, a stress test, and a heart echo, there’s one question doctors always ask that gives potentially lifesaving insight.

“Family history being one of the most important guidelines.”

That is because it can help doctors like Chebaclo determine if you’re at risk of an arrhythmia or anything that threatens your heart rhythm.

While we all worry about heart attacks, it’s cardiac arrest that Chebaclo says we should be most concerned about.

That is because cardiac arrest is when your heart stops beating altogether and does not need a heart attack to make that happen.

According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is an array of problems that can make it harder for blood to flow through the arteries.

Heidi Dowd, a nurse practitioner with Prevea Health, says there are factors to consider.

“Some people are genetically predisposed to having heart disease. Other people develop heart disease based on lifestyle choices. Such as inactivity, smoking, and poor dietary choices.”

Dowd says while it can seem like things are okay now, it can be dangerous to stick with certain bad habits.

“I think a lot of people don’t appreciate that heart disease is something that develops over time. It’s not a disease you get overnight.”

Heart attacks are becoming more common at younger ages Dowd says.

“We’re seeing heart disease in younger people now than we’ve seen before. It’s not uncommon to see people in their 40’s and 50’s having heart attacks.”

Doctor Chebaclo says when a heart attack happens, you will know.

“Based on my experience, people, when they have a heart attack, they know it. They always tell me that they have pain that they never felt before.”

He offers this advice to keep the old ticker going.

“The first important thing is to be happy. To live a happy life. To enjoy life.” The CDC says someone has a heart attack in the United States every 40 seconds.