NORTHWEST ARKANSAS-- Heart disease is the nation's number one killer, according to the American Heart Association, and the warning signs are often unnoticed.
Ashley Meek said, "Often it is silent, so people don't necessarily know that they may have heart problems going on. We can't actually feel high blood pressure. You can't feel high cholesterol either and so those are often two things that can actually increase your risk for developing heart disease."
Northwest Health Dietitian, Ashley Meek is constantly counseling clients on heart health..
"I see it everyday working in a healthcare facility," Meek said.
Studies conducted by the American Heart Association show 29 percent of Northwest Arkansas deaths are attributed to the disease each year.
"We are not necessarily told or taught to make the most healthy decisions especially when we are choosing foods," Meek said.
Keeping up with heart health can be as easy as making a simple switch in your diet and that means understanding the label.
Meek said, "there are three main nutrients that I tell people to watch out for so those would be your fat grams, your cholesterol in milligrams and then your sodium in milligrams as well."
Meek said to keep those milligram levels low and if picking your pasta has got you puzzled, search for the key word.
"One of the first ingredients that people want to find is that word whole grain," Meek said.
Symptoms of cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, can't be felt so Meek believes healthy habits can help to keep you in the clear.
"I am just recommending a healthy diet overall, making sure it is very well balanced and they are getting food groups from all of the foods," Meek said.
Healthy heart resources here.