American Heart Month, celebrated every year during February, is an ideal time to remind us to focus on our hearts and encourage us to get our families, friends, and communities involved in mindful heart health.
According to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the world with more than 17 million deaths every year.
Heart disease can often be prevented with healthy life choices. Communities, health professionals, and families can work together to create opportunities for us to make healthier choices. Take the initiative to lead by example about strategies for preventing heart disease and encourage your loved ones to live heart-healthy lives.
CPR, ECC and the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association’s CPR and ECC (Emergency Cardiovascular Care) inspires us to save lives by envisioning a world where no one dies from cardiac failure or heart attack. The AHA is the leader in resuscitation science, education, and training. They publish official guidelines for CPR and ECC. Millions of healthcare providers, organizations and home care providers trust the AHA for their lifesaving training.
Heart Disease Awareness and Symptoms
Heart disease includes several conditions that affect your heart. If you’ve never had a heart health problem, it is good to know the differences in heart health conditions and their symptoms. Don’t guess. Chest pain, especially in adults, is not something to ignore. Getting immediate emergency care saves lives.
Coronary Artery Disease
Coronary artery disease develops when the major blood vessels that supply your heart with blood, oxygen and nutrients (coronary arteries) become damaged or diseased. Cholesterol-containing deposits (plaque) in your arteries and inflammation are usually to blame for coronary artery disease. (Mayo Clinic 2018)
A heart attack occurs when an artery supplying your heart with blood and oxygen becomes blocked. Fatty deposits build up over time, forming plaque in your heart’s arteries. A blood clot can form and block the blood flow through your artery, causing a heart attack. (Mayo Clinic 2018)
Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have been diagnosed with heart disease. It can come on suddenly, or in the wake of other symptoms. Cardiac arrest is often fatal, if appropriate steps aren’t taken immediately. Each year in the United States, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital setting. (AHA)
Congestive Heart Failure
Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a chronic progressive condition that affects the pumping power of your heart muscles. While often referred to simply as “heart failure,” CHF specifically refers to the stage in which fluid builds up around the heart and causes it to pump inefficiently. (Brindles 2019)
Some risk factors are uncontrollable, like your age, gender, and whether you have a family history of heart disease. The best way to assure you are heart-healthy is to have a comprehensive annual physical.
Heart Risk Factors You Can Control
- Control Your Blood Pressure. It is important to get your blood pressure checked regularly and take the necessary steps to prevent or control high blood pressure. If your pressure is too high, the force can damage artery walls and create scar tissue, which makes it difficult for blood and oxygen to get to and from the heart.
- Stay Active. Regular exercise will strengthen your heart and improve circulation. Sitting for too long every day can lead to heart disease and an increased risk of diabetes & cholesterol. By striving to be active for at least 30-40 minutes a day & five days a week with moderate exercise, you can improve your heart health as well as weight.
- Don’t Smoke. Smoking raises your blood pressure and increases your chance of heart attack and stroke. While e-cigarettes are effective in helping people quit smoking and lack the harmful chemicals, they do still contain nicotine, which is addictive and harmful for your body. Consider getting on a plan to quit smoking once and for all.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Limiting salt intake, increasing intake of fresh fruits and vegetables will help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Because no single food can provide our bodies with all of the nutrients which we need for good health, hence choose a variety of foods each day. Incorporating a variety of is a great way to get started towards a healthy diet.
- Manage Your Weight. Controlling your excess weight can lower your risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Excess pounds affects the entire circulatory system and can lead to health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obstructive sleep etc. But losing as little as 5% to 10% of your excessive weight can lower your blood pressure and other stroke risk factors.
- Get Enough Sleep. Lack of sleep can be associated with bad cholesterol and blood pressure. Getting between 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night will decrease your risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes—three things that can raise your risk for heart disease.
Go Red Day
For many years, women were unaware that heart disease could affect them in the same way it could men. We now know that heart disease is the leading cause of death among women, but too many still feel it can’t or won’t happen to them. The American Heart Association created Go Red Day to raise awareness for women. On the first Friday of every February during American Heart Month, the nation comes together, inspiring a wave of red around the country. From landmarks to news anchors and neighborhoods to online communities; this annual movement unites millions of people for a common goal: the eradication of heart disease and stroke.
Heart Healthy to Do’s – Start Now!
Encourage your family to make small changes, such as using spices to season food instead of salt.
Motivate your family to make physical activity a part of their day. Children learn health habits early. If parents eat poorly, don’t exercise and smoke, chances are, children will follow in their footsteps. Do what you can to make positive changes to your family’s daily health routine and everyone will benefit! You can even take the dog for a walk; they have the similar health problems that humans have. Keep you loved ones, including the furry ones, healthy with regular exercise!
Attend a CPR Class. Immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest.
A key to maintaining heart health is regular monitoring of our health parameters. These measures have one unique thing in common: any person can make these changes; the steps are not expensive to take and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference. Start with one or two. Educate yourself on the importance of these heart-healthy issues. There is always room for improvement when it comes to your health. (AHA)
Happy American Heart Month!
“Heart Disease. Healthy Choices Can Reduce Risk.” HealthSCOPE Benefits,
“Go Red for Women.” http://goredforwomen.org
“Coronary Artery Disease.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 May 2018,
“Heart Attack.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 30 May 2018, https://mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106.
Brindles Lee Macon and Kristeen Cherney. “Congestive Heart Failure: Types, Causes, Stages, and Treatment.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 21 Feb. 2019,