February is American Heart Month

Cardiovascular disease – including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure – is responsible for one out of every three deaths. It is the number one killer of American women and men, and it is a leading cause of serious illness and disability. 
Here are a few facts you may not know:

  • Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics and Whites.
  • Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of 
cancer combined.
  • Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually.
  • In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone dies from a heart disease-related event.
  • About 720,000 people in the U.S. suffer heart attacks each year.
  • About 300,000 people experience out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the United States. Of those treated by emergency medical services, only 10% survive.
  • Direct and indirect costs of heart disease total more than $320 billion.

The signs and symptoms of heart disease can vary greatly. Chest discomfort is the first sign. This may include chest pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away after a few minutes. But it may also include

  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw, neck, or back
  • Weakness, light-headedness, nausea or cold sweats
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms or shoulders
  • Shortness of breath

The good news is that heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. Anyone, including children, can develop heart disease. It occurs when plaque builds up in your arteries. When this happens, your arteries can narrow over time, reducing blood flow to the heart. Smoking, eating an unhealthy diet, and not getting enough exercise all increase your risk for having heart disease. Having high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes also can increase your risk for heart disease.

There are several tests to diagnose heart disease, including chest X-rays, coronary angiograms, electrocardiograms (ECG or EKG) and exercise stress tests. Ask your doctor about what tests may be right for you. If you have heart disease, lifestyle changes can lower your risk for complications. Your doctor also may prescribe medication to treat the disease. Talk with your doctor about the best way to reduce your heart disease risk.

February is American Heart Month. Take some time to review your lifestyle, make changes and get to the “heart” of the matter. And in support of American Heart Month, wear red during the month of February!