WASHINGTON — An alarming new study shows that Americans need to give their hearts more love.  

The information released by the American Heart Association shows at least 48 percent of all adults in the U.S. have some form of the nation's #1 killer, heart disease. More than 840,000 Americans died from the condition in 2016. 

The findings are particularly driven by new guidelines that changed the definition of hypertension.

The 2017 guidelines define hypertension sets in as blood levels reach 130/80 mm Hg, this is a change from the previous guidelines that defined hypertension occurs when blood levels reached 140/90 mm Hg.  This lead to a large increase in people who have a form of heart disease.

Locally, the DMV area Links Incorporated organization holds a yearly event on February 1st which is known nationally as "Wear Red Day".  This date is the kick off to American Heart Month.

Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D., National President of The Links Incorporated flew into the DC area for the event.  Dr. Jeffries says, "We partnered with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to get a grant over 11 years ago and we started our Heart Links Program".

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Check out the full interview on Great Day Washington
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The Links Incorporated started this program in DC with fewer than 50 people at the first event and now the event boasts more than 1,000 participants.  This year the event is called "Heart Healthy Mind, Body, and Sole" and it is held at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria.  

Former WUSA9 anchor Andrea Roane is the event emcee.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlights four ways to help keep a happy and healthy heart.

1. Don't smoke, it will wreak havoc on your blood vessels

2. Manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels

3. Make heart-healthy changes to your diet.  (fill half your plate with veggies and fruits... plus choose food with lower amounts of sodium)

4. Get moving!  Aim for physical activity at least 150 minutes per week.

Also, see your doctor regularly.  These changes can go a long way towards saving lives.