February is “Heart Month,” making it the perfect time to learn about your risk for heart disease and the steps you should take to live a longer, healthier life.

Heart disease doesn’t happen just to older adults, and it does not just impact men, since cardiovascular disease (CVD) will kill more women (1 in 4) this year than all cancers combined. High rates of obesity and high blood pressure among those aged 35-64 are putting them at risk for CVD much earlier in life, and half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for heart disease (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking), according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Robbinsville is just one of countless municipalities planning to “Go Red” on Feb. 1, as the American Heart Association marks the 16th Anniversary “National Wear Red Day”—a massive national public awareness where people from all walks of life bring attention to the sobering reality of heart disease and stroke among our population.

Key risk factors include:

High blood pressure. Millions of Americans of all ages have high blood pressure, many of them in their 40s and 50s. Having uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the biggest risks for heart disease and other harmful conditions, such as stroke. Just a reminder that blood pressure screening is available at the Robbinsville Senior Center all-purpose room each Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

High cholesterol. High cholesterol also can increase the risk for heart disease. Having diabetes and obesity, smoking, eating unhealthy foods and not enough physical activity can all contribute to unhealthy cholesterol levels.

Smoking. More than 37 million U.S. adults are smokers. Smoking damages the blood vessels.

Obesity. Carrying extra weight puts stress on the heart. More than 1 in 3 Americans—and nearly 1 in 6 children ages 2 to 19—is clinically obese.

Diabetes. Diabetes causes sugar to build up in the blood, thus damaging blood vessels and nerves that help control the heart muscle. Nearly 1 in 10 people in the United States has diabetes.

Physical inactivity. Staying physically active helps keep the heart and blood vessels healthy.

Unhealthy eating patterns. Replacing foods high in sodium/salt with fresh fruits and vegetables can help lower blood pressure. Diets high in trans-fat, saturated fat and added sugar increases the risk factor for heart disease.

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Big “Welcome to Robbinsville!” shout out to CEO Dean Durling and the good people of QuickChek, who opened their 159th family-owned store next to NorthStar Vets on Robbinsville-Allentown Road on Jan. 22.

QuickChek is offering free iced and hot coffee for a limited time in February, and will be donating 25 cents from every sub, hoagie and wrap sold—also for a limited time this month—to the Robbinsville Little League.

Other businesses that officially opened in town with ribbon-cutting ceremonies since the start of 2019 include: Berkshire Hathaway in the new Main Street Commons plaza, Fit Body Boot Camp in the Foxmoor Shopping Center and Chase Bank.

Dave Fried is the mayor of Robbinsville.