February is American Heart Month, highlighting the number 1 killer of all Americans, heart disease. Today, there are nearly 20 million Americans living with coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke.
When you hear the word “heart,” your mind probably goes immediately to romantic love because Valentine’s Day is in February, but when it comes to your own heart, it’s important to know how to keep it healthy and strong.
The month of February is dedicated to celebrating the importance of healthy hearts and preventing heart disease. In fact, it’s the official national health education campaign of the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association is one of the oldest and largest voluntary health organizations in the United States. It aims to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke through research, education, and advocacy. In addition, they raise awareness about preventing these diseases by working with other organizations and providing educational materials for people of all ages—from children through adults.
The organization was founded in 1924 by six cardiologists who wanted to educate people about basic life-saving measures such as getting enough exercise and eating right for a healthy heart. They also worked on policy changes like reducing smoking rates among adults to improve overall cardiovascular health in communities across America.
This is a great time to start thinking about ways to protect your heart since heart disease is the leading cause of death in America and is preventable.
Here are some facts about American Heart Month and Heart Disease:
- President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first proclamation for American Heart Month in 1964. Since then, U.S. presidents have annually declared February American Heart Month.
- Heart disease kills more than 2,200 Americans each day from heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, or about one person every 40 seconds.
- One out of four deaths each year is from cardiovascular disease.
- The heart is the most active muscle in the body. It beats 100,000 times daily and pumps more than 2,000 gallons of blood daily. A healthy heart rate falls between 60-100 BPM. Anything above or below this range may indicate an underlying condition, like cardiac arrhythmia.
- If you have high blood pressure or diabetes, you are more likely to develop coronary artery disease. If you have high cholesterol levels or high triglyceride levels, these can also increase your risk of developing coronary artery disease. Even if you don’t have any of these risk factors, there may still be other reasons why your doctor would recommend treatment options for heart disease.
- Treatment options for coronary artery disease include beta-blockers (used to treat high blood pressure) and statins (which lower cholesterol). Surgery may also be recommended in some cases.
- Heart disease affects one or more parts of the heart, including coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure. Common symptoms include chest pain (angina), shortness of breath (dyspnea), fatigue, nausea/vomiting, and palpitations (rapid heartbeat).
- Heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart is blocked by a clot or plaque buildup. If someone experiences chest pain or discomfort at any time, they should seek medical attention immediately.
Heart Disease Signs & Prevention
How can you protect your heart? Here are some signs and prevention tips:
- Heart attack symptoms include chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, upper back pain or discomfort, fatigue, palpitations, nausea or vomiting, and cold sweats. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, get help immediately.
- Take care not to smoke or drink too much alcohol. Both are known to have adverse effects on your heart’s ability to pump blood effectively and efficiently.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to maintain healthy cholesterol levels that may protect against heart disease.
- Maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising regularly. This will increase your body’s ability to fight off disease while improving your overall health and well-being.
- Managing stress through activities like meditation or journaling.
How Hospice Can Help
American Heart Month is also an excellent time to discuss how hospice can help those diagnosed with heart disease. If you or someone you love has suffered from heart disease, you may wonder what role hospice care plays in helping patients manage their symptoms and live as comfortably as possible before passing away.
Hospice care allows people nearing the end of life to have access to palliative services like pain management and symptom management so they can spend their last days with loved ones instead of in a hospital. Hospice nurses provide patients with support throughout their illness and after death. This can include helping them manage pain, keeping them hydrated, giving them medication at home as needed, ensuring that they take their medications regularly and adequately, etc. Hospice also offers emotional support for family members who are grieving their loss.
Hospice care can help you determine if there are any warning signs you should be aware of, like high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. They can also teach you how to care for yourself and your loved ones so you can live happier, healthier lives together.
If you’re worried about your risk factors for heart disease, or if you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes, talk with your doctor about what steps you can take to help prevent future problems.
Your doctor can also give you information about what hospice services are available in your area if you or a loved one needs extra support at home during their final days.