Because of Valentine’s Day, we often associate the month of February with bright, red and pink hearts. However, there’s another reason we should think about hearts in February; it’s also American Heart Month! Is there a better gift to give your loved ones for Valentine’s Day than a strong, healthy heart?
Since 1963, American Heart Month has been celebrated as a way to educate and urge Americans to join the battle against heart disease. In 2004, February has also been the signature month for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign, spreading the message that heart disease is not just a disease men suffer. Since 1996, the AHA has invested more than $3.7 billion into studies and research about heart disease.
Million Hearts™ is a national initiative that was launched by the Department of Health and Human Services in September 2011. Their goal is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by the end of this year, empowering Americans to make smart, healthy choices regarding their lifestyles. This year, for American Heart Month 2017, Million Hearts™ is calling upon the younger generation to spread the word about heart disease prevention.
The Facts about Heart Disease
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. In fact, every year, one in four people will die from heart disease. In the U.S., the most common form of heart disease is coronary artery disease, which can lead to a heart attack. Heart disease can strike anyone, no matter your background, but certain individuals may be more at risk than others. For example, those who are overweight, have high blood pressure or diabetes, and smokers.
Heart Disease Symptoms
While there are several different forms of heart disease, they share common symptoms and warning signs. It’s important to learn these symptoms to receive a prompt diagnosis and medical treatment. The most common heart disease symptoms include:
- Angina, or chest pain and discomfort – this is often mistaken for indigestion or heartburn
- Heart palpitations or increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or sweating
- Dizziness, lightheadedness and weakness
- Throat or jaw pain
- Fatigue or exhaustion
Heart Healthy Tips for Seniors
By making certain lifestyle changes and managing medical conditions sooner rather than later, it’s possible to reduce the risk for heart disease. Small steps can go a long way in reducing your risk for heart disease! For example, decreasing salt intake by using spices on your favorite dishes instead. Stock up on heart healthy foods like fruits and veggies, and choices that are low in sodium and fats. Get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week; workouts can be broken down into ten minute increments when you’re first starting until you build your strength and stamina.
Also, it’s vital to get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked on a regular basis. If you’re on medications to control conditions like high blood pressure, take them on time every day to help further control your risk factors.