February is American Heart Month
February is dedicated to bringing awareness to the causes of heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease and how to live a healthier lifestyle.
Heart disease causes more than 650,000 deaths in the United States each year, more than the number of deaths caused by all forms of cancer and respiratory disease combined. Per the CDC, approximately 1 in 4 people die of cardiac issues each year.
Every year, around 805,000 people in the U.S. suffer a heart attack – that’s one person every 40 seconds. There is a common misconception that heart disease predominately affects men. While heart disease is the leading cause of death for men in the U.S., it is also the leading cause of death for women in the U.S.In 2017, heart disease killed approximately 1 in every five women.
National Wear Red Day, which occurs on the first Friday of February each year, was created to raise and spread awareness about heart disease in women and educate the public about the risk factors. A heart attack, heart failure, or arrhythmia (heart palpitations) are all symptoms of heart disease. And while heart disease refers to several types of heart conditions, the most common is coronary artery disease.
Coronary artery disease affects the blood flow to the heart, decreasing it, which can, in turn, cause a heart attack. Key risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, diabetes, and obesity. Additionally, several contributing factors can lead to heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease, including poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, being overweight, excessive use of alcohol, smoking or secondhand smoke, and high levels of stress.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left Americans feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and a decrease in our activity levels may have caused weight gain. These factors can increase blood pressure and cholesterol and hurt our mental health. 2020 saw a significant increase in heart disease-related deaths over 2019. Some common symptoms of a heart attack that you should be aware of are chest pain or discomfort that may last a few minutes or come and go. You may also have discomfort in other areas of the upper body, such as one or both arms, your back, neck, or jaw. Other heart attack symptoms may include indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, dizziness, or shortness of breath.
This February, the AHA is sponsoring the “Reclaim Your Rhythm” campaign to urge Americans to live healthier lives by taking back control of their “mental and physical well-being after two difficult years of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The AHA’s suggestions for reclaiming one’s health include: Doing at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week (please consult your physician before beginning an exercise regimen) and eating a healthy diet, which typically includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, to name a few—not smoking or vaping—maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, getting regular checkups, and learning CPR. Following COVID-19 safety protocols. Then find ways to relax and ease your mind, such as meditation.