As this week’s front page story illustrates, looks can be deceiving when it comes to heart health. An active wife and mother of three who’s always been into fitness and health, she was actually running a marathon when she was stricken with a heart attack. She was only 52-years-old. Certainly not your “typical heart attack waiting to happen.”

Fortunately, Nemecek narrowly escaped the situation. All the right circumstances were in place when the near-fatal incident occurred, and not a day goes by when Nemecek doesn’t think about that with gratitude and awe.

Along with containing the heart-and-love centered holiday called Valentine’s Day, February is Women’s Heart Health Month. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, heart disease is the number one killer of women. Throughout the month, women (and men) are reminded to choose a lifestyle that helps fight heart disease through healthy eating, exercise, physical activity and talking with their doctors about risks for heart disease.

Controlling risk factors for heart disease— high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity and weight are also important when it comes to reducing the risk of heart attack. Often, these risk factors can be managed by changes in lifestyle and consultations with health care professionals. Some risk factors are beyond our control. Age, gender, family health history, and a previous stroke or heart attack all come into play regarding heart health.

Taking time to slow down, reduce stress, have some fun and count your blessings can’t hurt either when it comes to a healthy heart.

We encourage women (and men) to take time to take care of both health and heart throughout the month of February and beyond. As this week’s profile of Carol Nemecek illustrates, a heart attack can strike even the unlikeliest subject. With some simple lifestyle changes and help from your health care provider, you can do your best to avoid becoming a statistic when it comes to heart health.