Valentine’s Day and President’s Day aren’t the only holidays we’ll be celebrating this month. February is American Heart Month! Cross my heart.
It seems that matters of the heart are quite serious. So serious that every year since 1963, Congress has required the President to proclaim February ‘American Heart Month’. The American Heart Association helps to draft this proclamation and get it signed. Who knew?
Even so, after 45 years of ‘proclaiming’, cardiovascular disease remains the number 1 killer (including stroke) in our nation today. Let’s join President Obama and the American Heart Association’s plight to fight heart disease and raise awareness, shall we?
1. Get Heart Smart. Like the American Heart Association (AMA) says, “learn and live”. Did you know that the death rate from cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher for females than males? And that the warning signs of a heart attack may be different for men and women? Read Staggering Heart Facts and Heart Attack & Stroke Warning Signs: Men vs Women.
2. Check yourself. According to the AMA, if you’ve made it to middle age (eg, 50) and you’re a non-smoker without high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes then congratulations! You can look forward to: a substantially longer life; lower risk for CVD; lower risks for CVD death and non-CVD death; better health-related quality of life in older age; and, substantially reduced Medicare expenditures. Start monitoring your cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels now. They’re sneaky and you might not even know you’re in trouble. The good news is, they are manageable with help from your doc. If you smoke, quit it. It’s gross and stinky and stupid and so uncool, unlike you. Here is a List of Heart Attack & Stroke Risk Factors and Guidelines.
4. Spread the Word. As with all diseases, I believe that awareness is half the battle. You could save someone’s life by sharing your knowledge about heart disease with your family, friends, schools, social groups, community groups. Even if it is just in casual conversation, try to work in “have you had your blood pressure checked lately?” or “did you know that… ”. The AMA asks you to be part of the cure. Become an advocate! Another way to spread the word is to get involved with local heart charities. You can volunteer at hospitals, deliver leaflets door to door, start your own campaign or attend charity events. Here are some specific ways to give.
5. Cover your bases. Do you know what to do in the event of a heart attack? Do you know how to do CPR? Does your school, home, company and shopping mall have an Automated External Diffibrilator (AED)? They are so affordable now, there is no excuse. If you or a loved on is at risk for a heart attack you may also consider getting a 911 Medical Alert System.
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If you’ve read all of these articles and you crave more, visit the American Heart Association website.
Happy American Heart Month! Please take care of yourself. We heart you.