American Heart Month

American Heart Month in February reminds individuals to focus on their hearts and encourages them to get their families, friends and communities involved. Throughout the month, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) will encourage citizens to learn the warning signs of heart attack and stroke, take preventive measures to live healthy, and incorporate tools and skills that will increase survival rates and save thousands of lives each year.

While progress has been significant in reducing deaths from heart disease, it is still the number one killer of both women and men, and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death. Approximately 844,000 people in the U.S. die each year from heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases; accounting for about one of every three deaths in America. In fact, cardiovascular diseases claim more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined. Additionally, around 92.1 million American adults are living with some form of cardiovascular disease or the after-effects of stroke.

The AHA/ASA’s 2020 Impact Goal seeks to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent through research, population- and community-level interventions, public health and policy measures. About 80 percent of cardiovascular disease may be prevented through everyday healthy living steps including physical activity, good nutrition, not smoking, maintaining healthy weight, and controlling blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

The AHA/ASA recommends that individuals be aware of five key numbers: total cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI). These numbers are important because they will allow individuals and their healthcare providers to determine risks for developing cardiovascular disease by Atherosclerosis. This includes conditions such as angina (chest pain), heart attack, stroke (caused by blood clots) and Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

Some risk factors can be managed, others cannot be controlled. Risk factors that can be controlled include high blood pressure, smoking, high blood cholesterol, lack of regular activity, obesity/overweight, and diabetes. Risk factors that cannot be controlled include age, gender, family health history, race, and previous stroke or heart attack, but knowing these risk factors like family history are still important when assessing overall risk for heart disease and stroke.

Also during American Heart Month, the AHA/ASA encourages citizens to help raise awareness and save lives by calling 9-1-1 if symptoms occur, become trained in CPR, and promote comprehensive automated external defibrillator programs in their communities.
To kick off American Heart month, the AHA/ASA is asking the women and men of Colorado to participate in the Annual Wear Red Day on Friday, February 2, 2018 to show their dedication of the cause and to empower them to take action for their health. In addition to National Wear Red Day, the AHA/ASA will host several events in Denver during American Heart Month. For a complete list of events, visit www.heart.org/denverwearred.