February is American Heart Month
January 30, 2020
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for men and women in the United States. The good news is: heart disease is typically preventable. Our team at Galfand Berger wants to remind our readers that this February is American Heart Month. American Heart Month is an annual awareness campaign with the goal of teaching people how to make healthy decisions that lead to optimal heart health.
What is Heart Disease?
Heart disease is an umbrella term for an array of health conditions that affect a person’s heart. Some of the most common types of heart disease are:
- Arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat,
- Myocardial infarction (heart attacks),
- Heart failure,
- Coronary artery disease, which is the most common type of heart disease. The condition happens when the arteries supplying blood flow to the heart harden and narrow due to a buildup of plaque, cholesterol, and other materials,
- Congenital heart disease, which includes deformities that have been present since birth, and:
- Mitral regurgitation, a condition that occurs when the mitral valve to the heart does not close tightly enough. This allows blood to flow back into the heart instead of leaving it.
American Heart Month is the perfect time to learn more about heart disease and the conditions that lead to it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that half of all Americans have at least one of the top three risk factors for developing heart disease, which are:
- High blood pressure,
- High cholesterol, and:
The CDC also reports that every one in four deaths in the U.S. is a consequence of heart disease – that means that approximately 647,000 Americans die from it every year. According to the agency, coronary artery disease is responsible for the majority of heart disease-related deaths.
Although symptoms of heart disease vary by condition, there are some general warning signs and symptoms to watch out for. Possible symptoms of heart disease include the sensation of tightness, pain, discomfort, or pressure in the chest, shortness of breath, pain in the neck, jaw, upper abdomen, or back, and irregular heartbeat (e.g. rapid, fluttering, pounding, etc.) The Mayo Clinic says it is critical to seek emergency medical attention if a person is experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Chest pain,
- Fainting, or:
- Shortness of breath
Tips for Better Heart Health
When it comes to a healthier heart, it is never too late to make life-changing decisions. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly are all helpful ways to prevent heart disease. Other useful ways to guard against heart disease include limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, taking medications as directed by a medical professional, checking cholesterol levels, and controlling blood pressure. For individuals with heart problems or who have high risk factors, it is advisable to work with a team of healthcare professionals who can effectively monitor the condition(s).
To learn more about American Heart Month and ways to live a healthy heart lifestyle, visit: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/education-and-awareness/heart-month. And do not forget — February 7th is National Wear Red Day. Wear red to help raise awareness about heart disease in your neighborhood!
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