Every year in the United States, approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease, making it the leading cause of death for men and women. It is also the leading cause of death around the world, accounting for more than 17.3 million deaths every year–a number that is expected to reach more than 23.6 million by 2030.
American Heart Month
February is American Heart Month. The first American Heart Month was established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to bring attention to what was, even then, a serious health issue across the nation. According to the American Heart Association, “At that time, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease.” Now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that heart disease is responsible for about 25 percent of deaths.
Wear Red Day
This year, Wear Red Day is on Friday, February 2. The Go Red for Women campaign was designed to bring more attention to the problem of heart disease in women. Approximately one woman dies from the disease every minute, but it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. For a long time, heart disease was considered a man’s disease, and other diseases, like breast cancer, received more attention as women’s health issues–even though heart disease “…is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.” Furthermore, sometimes the symptoms of heart disease aren’t the same in women as they are in men.
Heart Disease Prevention
American Heart Month and Wear Red Day are both in place in hopes that education and awareness will help people prevent heart disease. Though your age and family history are both risk factors that cannot be controlled, there are lifestyle choices you can make and other medical conditions you can manage in order to decrease your risk of heart disease.
- Improve Your Diet: Decrease your consumption of saturated fats, salt, and cholesterol.
- Get Active: Physical activity can decrease your risk of heart disease. Exercise helps manage other health conditions, like obesity and diabetes, that increase your risk of heart disease.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity increases your risk of heart disease.
- Limit Alcohol and Tobacco Use: According to the CDC, “Cigarette smoking can damage the heart and blood vessels, which increases your risk for heart conditions such as atherosclerosis and heart attack. Also, nicotine raises blood pressure, and carbon monoxide reduces the amount of oxygen that your blood can carry. Exposure to other people’s secondhand smoke can increase the risk for heart disease even for nonsmokers.”
- Lower Your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol: Healthy diet and exercise habits can help you manage these two conditions, which both increase your risk of heart disease.
This February, we invite you to learn more about heart disease, manage your risks, understand the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, and wear red on February 2 to bring awareness to this serious health issue.