Listen to Your Heart | Observing American Heart Month

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Listen to Your Heart | Observing American Heart Month
February 4, 2022
RxLocal Team

How to Improve Your Heart Health During American Heart Month

It’s that time of year again: one month of all things red, roses, and romance. From grand gestures to simple displays of affection, February marks the month of love, and more importantly, where love comes from.

February is American Heart Month, a nationwide health holiday to support cardiovascular health here, there, and everywhere.


Since its start, American Heart Month has worked to promote healthier hearts and helped Americans reduce their risk of heart disease. Every year, millions of Americans show up and show out to support American Heart Month. In the process, they pave the way for a more heart-healthy future.


What are you doing to show your heart some love this month?


Get In the Know: Heart Health Fast Facts


Breaking news, making headlines, and taking the topic of conversations around the country, it’s no secret that heart disease is the most pressing health problem in the United States. That’s why, this month, it’s more important than ever that you educate yourself and your loved ones about the dangers of heart disease.

You can’t prevent a problem if you don’t fully understand it — so start by getting the facts.


How big of an issue is heart disease?


You probably already knew that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US, but did you know that:


  • 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease
  • One person dies from heart disease every 36 seconds
  • 659,000 people die from heart disease every year
  • Someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds
  • About 1 in 5 heart attacks are silent (with minimal or no symptoms)
  • Heart disease costs the US about $363 billion every year



What are the different types of heart disease?


“Heart disease” is an all-encompassing term that refers to many different types of diseases. However, the most common types of heart disease are:


  1. Coronary heart disease — Coronary heart disease happens when plaque grows in the walls of the coronary arteries and limits blood flow. 6.7% of all American adults have CHD.


  1. Arrhythmia — “Arrhythmia” refers to a disruption of the heart’s normal rhythm. Arrhythmia causes the heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly. 5% of people currently live with heart arrhythmia.


  1. Heart valve disease — Your heart uses 4 valves to pump blood. Heart valve disease happens when one or more of the valves does not open or close properly. About 2.5% of adults have heart valve disease.


  1. Heart failure — Heart failure happens when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should, causing drops in blood and oxygen levels. About 1.9% of adults currently have heart failure.



What are the risk factors for heart disease?


Heart disease has many different risk factors, which include:


  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Excessive alcohol/tobacco use
  • Chronic stress
  • Biological factors, like sex (men have a higher risk than women), age (people aged 65 and older have a higher risk), and family history


The top 3 risk factors for heart disease, though, are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. According to the CDC, about half of all Americans (47%) have at least 1 of these 3 risk factors.


The situation seems grim, but initiatives like American Heart Month — and the organizations that sponsor it, like the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and The Heart Truth — strategically position themselves to help Americans overcome risk factors, lead healthier lives, and keep their hearts healthy and strong for years to come.


Find out how healthy your heart is by visiting the Mayo Clinic’s Heart Disease Risk Calculator.



Get Involved: How to Celebrate This Year


This February, listen to your heart. Try out any of these ideas to commemorate American Heart Month — and do your part to get family, friends, physicians, and pharmacists involved.


Heart health is a challenge we all have to face together, but you can make the first move. This month:

1. Wear red on the first Friday of February

Help raise awareness about heart disease by sporting your favorite red t-shirt, necktie, or pair of sneakers.


2. Get a heart screening to check in on yourself

See the status of your heart and encourage your loved ones to go in for their regular screening, too


3. Try out a new heart-healthy recipe for dinner

If you need some inspiration, use recipes from NHLBI’s website. Try a classic chicken quesadilla, a jumpin’ jambalaya, or dozens of other dishes that will make your heart (and your taste buds) sing. Get your friends involved by hosting a potluck dinner.

4. Get up and active


Start a walking club at work or in your neighborhood, or get involved with a local rec team. Exercising with other people can keep you accountable and give you a chance to stay social, too.


5. Plan a heart-healthy date for your Valentine

Take a stroll through the park, a scenic hike, or a friendly sports game. Nothing says “I love you” like looking out for your loved one’s health.


6. Challenge your organization to participate in a “steps” contest

A little friendly competition can motivate your team to stay active, especially if there’s a prize offered at the end.


7. Make time for self-care

Chronic stress is linked to heart disease, so make some time to kick back, relax, and enjoy yourself this month.


8. Take to social media

Use your favorite platforms to share valuable information about heart health. NHLBI offers a variety of social media resources, ranging from motion graphics to GIFs to state-based infographics.


9. Use the hashtag #OurHearts

When you post this month, use this hashtag to share valuable information with familiar faces and connect with ones. Find #OurHearts resources here.


10. Ask your local leaders to get involved

Reach out to lawmakers, doctors, nurses, and community pharmacists to help spread the word. Request that they share information, plan events, and enact policies that support heart health.


To explore each of these ideas and more, visit NHLBI’s 25 Ways to Take Part in Heart Month.


Fight Heart Disease This February and Beyond

February is the month of love, but it’s also the month to show some love to your heart. This month, during American Heart Month, take the time to prioritize your cardiovascular health and help others prioritize theirs.

By taking the right steps and using the right resources, you can make a difference in your community.

After all, nothing beats a healthy heart.