February is American Heart Month

It is once again time to celebrate American Heart Month. February is National Heart Awareness Month and, according to the National Heart and Lung Institute (NIH), heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. This year, the United States is commemorating the 58th consecutive American Heart Month.

According to heart.org, the first proclamation was issued in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who suffered several heart attacks. The first Friday in February was named National Wear Red Day as part of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women’s Initiative. The American Heart Association encourages the public to wear red and bring attention to heart health. This year, National Wear Red Day is Friday, February 4.

The term “heart disease” refers to several different types of heart diseases. A few are coronary artery disease (CAD), which causes heart attacks, heart arrythmias, heart failure, heart valve disease, pericardial disease, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease) and congenital heart disease.

As listed on their website at cdc.gov, the Center for Disease control (CDC) provides some symptoms of heart disease as:

Heart attack - chest pain or discomfort, upper back or neck pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea or vomiting, extreme fatigue, upper body discomfort, dizziness and shortness of breath.

Arrhythmia - fluttering feelings in the chest (palpitations)

Heart failure - shortness of breath, fatigue, or swelling of the feet, ankles, legs, abdomen, or neck veins.

According to my.clevelandclinic.org, Shone’s Complex is one of the rarest heart diseases known and is found in infants present at birth. It only accounts for less than 1% of all congenital heart diseases.There are at least three defects that affect the blood flow in the left side of their heart. Open heart surgery is required almost immediately after birth and is usually followed by more surgeries. Adults who have Shone’s Complex must visit their cardiologist regularly.

According to www.nm.org, heart disease can be prevented through healthy habits like maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in physical activity, and following a heart-healthy diet. “There is never enough awareness,” says Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MSc, chief of Cardiology and Associate Director of Northwestern Medicine Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. “We still lose people to heart disease every day while going to great measures to save lives. Our team is working diligently to get the word out. Simple messages and simple steps work: Know your risk, change your diet and increase your activity level.”

Other ways to help raise awareness in addition to wearing red are to get screened, learn CPR, take action by being physically active, eat healthier and donate to charities, such as the National American Heart Association.


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