February marks American Heart Month, which provides an opportunity for awareness and education on the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. In fact, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease, and every year our urgent care clinics see transfers to the emergency departments for individuals experiencing heart attacks who have sought care from us thinking it was something else.
Last year alone, 610,000 Americans died from heart disease. In the past, this number was made up primarily of people over the age of 60, but that has changed. People of all ages are at risk, and a growing number of younger people are now dealing with medical conditions involving the heart.
With heart disease becoming a growing problem in the United States, it’s imperative to be informed on the risks, symptoms, and preventative opportunities. Help make a difference in your community and at home by spreading awareness of heart health this month and beyond.
There are various risk factors for heart disease that everyone should be aware of. Simple lifestyle changes can make a big impact on lowering risk for heart disease, stroke, and metabolic syndrome, which is a group of factors that greatly increase risk for developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke and diabetes. Some factors that increase risk for heart disease include are smoking, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight or obese, and lack of physical activity.
Using a professional risk calculator, an evaluation of risk of having a heart attack or dying from coronary heart disease in the next ten years is estimated. The calculator can also identify risks for metabolic syndrome.
The professional risk calculator can be used by anyone 20 years of age or older, and by age 40 everyone should know their risk score by using the tool. It’s also vital to consider family history. If family members have died from heart disease before the age of 65 for a woman, or 55 for a man, then it’s even more imperative to be screened for heart disease risks by 20 years of age.
Heart disease awareness doesn’t end with the month of February. There are many impactful ways to continue to spread heart health information throughout the year. .
- Encourage friends and family to make small changes in their diets. For example, using other spices to season food rather than salt.
- Parent can help their children embrace the value of physical activity by scheduling family activity time on most or all days of the week..
- For teachers or administrators, physical activity can be incorporated into daily lessons and classroom time.
- For businesses, include information about American Heart month in your company’s monthly newsletter and break room, and host a 20-minute group walk around your office at lunch time, and make it a weekly routine!
- Following the American Heart Month on social media.
You only have one heart. Join the heart health movement, and start spreading awareness and knowledge about heart disease.