February is American Heart Month: How You Can Raise Awareness and Improve Heart Health
The American Heart Association is working this month to build awareness among women and men of ways to prevent and treat heart disease and take care of your heart.
Did you know heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States? As the body’s hardest-working muscle, pumping at least 2,500 gallons (9,450 liters) of blood through your body daily, your heart needs to be regularly exercised and strengthened.
The Heart of the Matter
A few facts from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention on heart disease from 2009:
- Coronary heart disease (which appears as a heart attack) is the most common heart disease in the U.S.
- Every 25 seconds an American will have a coronary event; about one every minute will die from it.
- Women account for nearly 50 percent of heart disease deaths in the U.S.
- Heart disease is the third leading cause of death among women 25-44 years old and the second leading cause of death for women 45-64 years. It’s No. 1 for women aged 65 years and older.
There are different ways to help control certain factors that put people at a greater risk for heart disease. If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use and secondhand smoke then you’re at a higher risk. Be aware of the risk factors associated with heart disease as well as the signs and symptoms.
Heart attacks can range from mild to severe pain. People are often unaware they’re having a heart attack or that something is wrong. The following symptoms may be a sign you’re having a heart attack:
- Chest discomfort
- Discomfort in other areas of the upper body
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea and cold sweat
In addition to being aware of the personal risks, there are plenty of things you can do to help raise awareness, share knowledge with loved ones and get your heart into tip top shape. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Wear Red: Anyone anywhere can help raise awareness about heart disease in women by wearing red on Friday, Feb. 4, 2011. The American Heart Association created national Go Red for Women day to help raise awareness about heart disease as the No. 1 killer of women each year.
- Tell 5: The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women website also has a Tell 5 application that helps you spread the word to five women you love about the risks associated with heart disease.
- Become a Spokesperson: Seriously. The American Heart Association is looking for a new spokespersons for 2011-2012 by holding casting calls throughout the country. They’re looking for stories from women about how you stay heart-healthy, or how heart disease has impacted your life. The organization will hold casting calls on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Center Court at Genesee Valley Mall, 3341 S. Linden Road, in Flint.
Choose Your Romantic Partner Wisely
In order to keep your heart in tip-top shape, it’s important to take good care of your physical and emotional well being. In fact, your health habits often reflect your partner’s health habits, too.
Readers Digest reports on a study by Brigham Young University that married couples often mirror each other’s health habits. The couples have similar health profiles based on living in the same environment, similar diet, exercise habits, and exposure to stress. So, it’s important to stay active, eat healthy, and take care of your overall health… together!
Love Your Heart
Take extra care of your heart this month by eating healthy and changing any bad habits to help lower your risk of heart disease. A few recommendations for a happy heart:
- Choose foods with little or no salt (eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day).
- Cut back on food high in trans fats or dietary cholesterol.
- Choose low-fat dairy products.
- Cut back on food and beverages with added sugar.
Staying on track with your health is essential to a healthy heart. Remember that you’re in charge of adopting a healthier lifestyle by eating foods of good nutritional value and exercising regularly.
What is your local community doing this month to encourage healthy habits?
Photo Credit: jcoterhals