DOTHAN, Ala.(WDHN) — February is Heart Health Awareness Month, an entire month dedicated to bringing awareness to the number one killer worldwide: cardiovascular disease.

“Cardiovascular disease is the biggest killer not only in the United States but worldwide,” said Chris Gauldin, Chief Cardiothoracic Surgery Physician Assistant and Structural Heart Clinic Coordinator for Southeast Health. “Really for the past 10 years or so, it was on the decline but in the past couple of years, it’s actually been somewhat on the increase. So we really want to make an effort to make people aware.”

Gaulding says one of the issues they are facing this year with COVID is that most people are not getting their routine medical care, which could be prevent issues like cardiovascular conditions. Because of this, the American Heart Association started a new campaign called “Don’t Die of Doubt.”

“We really want to encourage people especially for heart month this year, to continue to get their routine care and also to not be afraid to come to the hospital if they are having those kinds of symptoms,” Gauldin said.

Gaulding encourages both men and women to get their hearts checked.

“Women tend to often not have the classic symptoms that we talk about like chest pain, sometimes it can be shortness of breath, feeling fatigued, sometimes it can be just arm pain or neck pain, so they don’t tend to have the classic symptoms that you hear about,” said Gauldin.

Southeast Health officials say they see up to 300 open heart surgeries and about 80 transcatheter valve procedures a year, but the most common procedure is the stents procedure. The cath lab and the heart surgery procedures have been happening at Southeast Health since the ’80s.

So while you’re celebrating love this month, love yourself and get your heart checked out.