Begun in 1963, American Heart Month was created to encourage better heart health amongst Americans. Considering that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States, this month is particularly important in terms of national health.
However, heart disease can often be avoided when people make healthy exercise and eating choices and manage their health conditions. American Heart Month encourages communities, health professionals, and families to work together to create opportunities for healthier tickers.
How Can American Heart Month Make a Difference?
Firstly, by helping to educate a wider group of people about the risks of heart disease and steps they can take to prevent it. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease—that’s 25%, making the condition the leading cause of death in the country.
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is when plague builds up inside coronary arteries. This condition is referred to as atherosclerosis and occurs over many years. Over time, plaque can harden or rupture. Harden plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the heart. With this reduction comes the increased risk of an angia or heart attack. If left untreated and unaddressed for years, CHD can weaken the heart muscle and lead to either heart failure or arrhythmias.
But healthy eating, exercising regularly, and awareness can lower the risk of the onset of CHD.
The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) offers these examples of ways individuals and communities can work together to prevent heart disease:
- Encourage your family to make small changes, like using spices to season their food rather than salt
- Motivate teachers and administrators to make physical activity a part of the school day; this can help students establish good exercise habits early on
- Ask healthcare providers to be leaders in their communities by speaking out about ways to prevent heart disease
How Can I Participate in American Heart Month?
Any of the above examples will do, but if you’d like to take it a step further, your options are numerous!
Healthcare providers and their staff can add information about living a heart-healthy lifestyle to their newsletter. Providers and patients alike can Tweet about American Heart Month, joining the conversation and adding their own tips and view-points on the affects and reach of this disease. (If Twitter isn’t your strong-suit, good examples can be found here.)
On a more physical level, it may not be a bad idea to host an event that promotes heart health. Whether that takes shape as a friendly neighborhood kickball game, or a team-building group walk for your employees, or even a heart-healthy cooking competition, events like this can help motivate individuals to be more invested in their continued heart health.