By Diane Forrest, RN
Several events take place in February; one of the biggest is St. Valentine's Day. Just the mention of the word Valentine makes one think of hearts, flowers, and of courses my favorite, chocolate. While looking at the upcoming schedule, I noticed several days full of hearts and love related articles, so it seems only fitting that February is American heart month.
According to Wikipedia,
The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation—
(1) Designating February as American Heart Month;
(2) inviting the chief executive officers of the States, territories, and possessions of the United States to issue proclamations designating February as American Heart Month; and
(3) Urging the people of the United States to recognize the nationwide problem of heart and blood vessel diseases and to support all essential programs required to solve the problem
According to the Presidential Proclamation, Heart disease is a staggering health problem and a leading cause of death for American women and men. Thankfully, there are steps each of us can take to prevent this chronic disease. In a time when one in three adults in the United States is living with some form of cardiovascular disease, American Heart Month provides an important reminder that it is never too early to take action to improve our heart health.
All Americans should be aware of risk factors that can lead to heart disease, including: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, tobacco use, and family history. Practicing everyday habits such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting sodium consumption, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and moderating alcohol intake can reduce these risks.
According the CDC, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. Some of the signs of heart problems include:
- Pain, pressure, fullness in the chest;
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach;
- Shortness of breath; and
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea, or lightheartedness.
This year the heart association campaign is geared towards women, in the Go Red for Women events. Heart disease is often perceived as an "older woman's disease," and it is the leading cause of death among women aged 65 years and older. However, heart disease is the third leading cause of death among women aged 25–44 years and the second leading cause of death among women aged 45–64 years. Remember that many cases of heart disease can be prevented. February 4th is wear red day to remind everyone to keep your heart safe. Check this site for more information: http://www.goredforwomen.org/
There are some simple measures you can take to help in preventing heart problems. These include:
- Watching what you eat, avoiding or limiting foods high in salt and fat, and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables;
- Eat lean meat and fish;
- Limit alcohol;
- Stop Smoking; and
- Monitor your blood pressure regularly.
For more information about heart disease and ways to prevent or control it visit these sites: http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/