Every February, people around the United States come together to raise awareness for the leading cause of death in both men and women. President Lyndon B Johnson officially named February as heart health month in 1963, a time when heart disease was responsible for almost half of the deaths in America. Often times heart problems can be prevented, and throughout the month several organizations, including the American Heart Association, will be sharing ideas to help people make smart and healthy decisions.
The American Heart Association was founded in 1924 by a group of six cardiologists. Today, it has grown to include over 20 million volunteers and 3,000 employees. One of the main goals of their organization is to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease by 20% before 2020. They are attempting to do this by providing public health education in a variety of ways, including being the nation’s leader in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification. In addition to educational resources, the American Heart Association has also invested over $4 billion in research, which is more than any other organization outside of the federal government.
On Friday February 2nd millions of Americans will wear red to show their support for women battling cardiovascular disease. This will mark the 15th year of “National Wear Red for Women Day”, and since 2003 the American Heart Association has seen tremendous strides. According to their research, more than 50% of women are exercising more and have made positive changes to their diets. They also state that a third of women are now working with their doctors to develop a heart health plan.
This month is the perfect time to start improving cardiovascular health and there are several simple steps to get started:
- Eating one extra fruit or vegetable a day, and cutting out one sugar-sweetened beverage can drastically reduce stress on your heart.
- Check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels regularly.
- See a doctor once per year for a physical, especially for anyone over the age of 40.
- Reducing the amount of sodium you consume is another great first step to improving heart health.
Be sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or health plan. For more information from the American Heart Association visit www.heart.org