GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. – February is also Heart Health Month, so we’re diving into the topic this week for our Real Men Wear Gowns campaign.

We often think of taking care of our hearts as just something for older generations to think about, but Dr. Paul Sarcia, Cardiologist at HealthPartners, says it should be on our radar early on.

“Even a 20 year old person should have their cholesterol checked on a regular basis. Not every year, but every five years is reasonable,” Dr. Sarcia says.

Dr. Sarcia says he's concerned about the boom we're seeing right now in adolescent and childhood obesity.

“In about ten or fifteen years when those children and adolescents become adults, unfortunately the risk for heart attack and stroke is going to increase dramatically,” he says.

Sarcia says we should all be focused on getting our heart rate up three to four times a week for 30 or 40 minutes at a time. He also encourages eating more fruits and vegetables, and limiting saturated fats.

It's advice we hear all the time, but Dr. Sarcia says it really is important.

“Take your health very seriously, take initiative,” he says. “You can come to the doctor and we can give you pointers, but it all depends on how you follow through.”

Dr. Sarcia says the work you're doing now is an investment in yourself down the road.

“Just by simply lowering blood pressure, or by getting a hold of cholesterol, or lowering weight early on, we can prevent a heart attack at age 50,” he says. “I think we've done our job if we can do that.”