It is February. It's the month we should turn our attention to affairs of the heart. Not just the romantic affairs of Valentine's Day but the actual affairs of that all important muscle that keeps us moving. Yeah, that heart is the one I am talking about. February has been designated as American Heart Month. Here in Louisiana it's a month and a cause we should pay a lot more attention to.

As citizens of Louisiana we have a special reason to learn more about our hearts and how we can help keep them healthy. Heart disease is our state's leading killer. The sad truth is that many of those heart related deaths could be prevented.

Dr. Keith Ferdinand with Tulane University's School of Medicine told the Louisiana Radio Network some very easy lifestyle changes all of us could make to help us lead heart healthier lives.

Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, being active most days of the week, not using smoking or tobacco and limiting alcohol use.

According to Ferdinand, African American males are most at risk when it comes to issues with the heart like heart disease or hypertension. He suggested that all of us learn our A,B, C's when we discuss our heart with our healthcare professional.

A stands for appropriate aspirin use, B is for blood pressure control, that’s treating hypertension. The C is for cholesterol management, avoiding trans fats.

Ferdinand also offered five habits for healthier living that all of us could benefit by incorporating into our day to day routine. He calls it the healthy living challenge. Those five habits include staying active, using aspirin, managing cholesterol, monitoring blood pressure, and not smoking.

The healthy living habits, our challenge is to do at least one, perhaps we can do all five that would be great if you can do all five things but at least do one. That’s our challenge.

Dr. Ferdinand understands that making such a huge change in lifestyle all at once will be difficult for most people. He does suggest that you pick one or two of these habits and change them first. Once you've gotten those under control add another lifestyle change and pretty soon you'll have increased your chances for a longer, healthier life.