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February Is American Heart Month!
Our heart is one of the most vital organs in our body. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t always treat it as well as we should.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), heart disease remained the leading cause of death worldwide for the last 16 years. In the United States alone, over 610,000 people die every year from heart disease- the equivalent of one death per minute.
With February marking the beginning of American Heart Month, our team at Jacobs & Wallace is dedicated to spreading awareness about heart health in our communities. By encouraging even one person to make small changes in their heart hearth, we could all play a hand in saving a life.
Know The Facts
Heart disease is not a condition that appears instantaneously. A person’s risk of developing heart disease is increased over time, influenced by certain lifestyle choices and health conditions.
People with the following risk factors are considered high-risk for developing heart disease:
- high cholesterol
- high blood pressure
- smokers (cigarettes and vapes)
- lack of physical activity
- poor diet
Heart disease is a term describing a range of conditions that can adversely affect the health of your heart. The most common forms of heart disease include:
- coronary artery disease
- heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias)
- congenital heart defects
- heart muscle conditions
- heart valve conditions
Among these, coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. Coronary heart conditions involve the narrowing of the blood vessels and blockages of blood flow to the heart, responsible for more than 370,000 deaths every year.
Coronary heart conditions are the precursors for two of the most well-known and fatal heart conditions in history: strokes and heart attacks.
Heart attacks occur when a blood clot restricts blood flow to a part of the heart. If the clot is not removed, the part of the heart that is lacking blood begins to die, signaling the beginning of a heart attack.
Strokes occur when the vessel that delivers blood to the brain is disrupted by a blood clot. If the clot is not removed, the cells in the part of the brain that is lacking blood begin to die and can result in the loss of critical motor functions, such as walking or talking.
Know The Signs
Despite the fact that heart disease is the most fatal condition in the world, so many individuals are unaware they have it until it’s too late. Heart attacks do not always follow the dramatic Hollywood interpretation: a person clutching their chest or left arm in pain. Symptoms of heart disease differ for every individual. This is especially true for women who are more likely to suffer from uncommon or abnormal symptoms.
These are the signs that could indicate heart disease that all Americans should be aware of:
- chest discomfort
- shortness of breath
- pain spreading to arms
- irregular heartbeat
- dizzy or lightheaded
- nausea or stomach pain
- swollen legs, feet, and ankles
- throat and jaw pain
- constant coughing
- easily fatigued
- flu-like symptoms
- neck pain
- chest burning
How You Can Make A Difference
It doesn’t take a lot to reduce your risk of heart disease. Here a few changes you can make this Heart Month to get your family on the road to a healthier heart:
- Choose healthier foods and drinks low in sugar and salt.
- Keep a healthy weight.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Don’t smoke or vape.
- Check your cholesterol.
- Get regular checkups.
- Keep your stress level low.
- Create a treatment plan with your doctor to manage existing heart conditions.
How To Get Involved
American Heart Month is bursting with ways that you can show your support and raise awareness about heart health in your community.
Wear Red For Women (Feb. 7)
According to the American Heart Association, 80 percent of cardiac events among women could have been prevented if the signs were noticed. Heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death for women in America. On February 7, join the rest of the country for National Wear Red Day. Help support women in your community by raising awareness or starting your own fundraiser for the cause.
Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (Feb. 7 to 14)
American Heart Month is about more than just heart disease. Congenital heart disorders affect approximately 2.4 million Americans, and at least one million of these are individuals are under the age of 18. Help spread awareness of this challenging condition affecting our youth by participating in initiatives created by dedicated organizations such as Mended Hearts, a national and community-based non-profit organization that offers the gift of hope to heart disease patients, their families and caregivers. Take a look!
Heart Failure Awareness Week (Feb. 9 to 15)
You are the one who decides if your heart is healthy. During Heart Failure Awareness Week, take action in your community and spread awareness on the prevalence of heart failure in our society. The Heart Failure Society of America’s “Do Your Part, Know Your Heart” campaign is a perfect place to get ideas on how to promote heart health in your area during this week.
For more information on how to get involved, check out the 25’s Ways To Get Involved In Heart Month. Keep your hearts full and healthy, Connecticut!