Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

February is American Heart Month

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The most common type of heart disease is coronary disease which affects the arteries and veins that supply the heart with blood. Coronary disease usually results in heart attack. Approximately every 25 seconds an American will have a heart attack. 785,000 Americans had heart attacks in 2009; of those 470,000 will have a second heart attack.

There are two major ways to protect and promote heart health. One is in prevention and reduction of risk factors and the second is being aware of the signs and symptoms of heart disease. Some of the diseases and conditions that increase the risk of heart disease include; arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat, heart failure, PAD (peripheral artery disease), high cholesterol and high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, tobacco use and exposure to second hand smoke. To find out more about how dangerous even small amounts of second hand smoke can be visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web report at:
http://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/heart_disease/iom_report/index.htm

The most obvious symptom of heart attack is chest discomfort but being aware that pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach can be related to a coronary event may help save lives. Less common signs of heart distress include nausea, light headedness and breaking out in a cold sweat. Symptoms can be more subtle in women and include fatigue, sleep disturbances, shortness of breath, indigestion and anxiety according to a study published by the American Heart Association.

Being aware of your heart health history and being in tune with your body are both crucial for preventing heart attack. Along with prevention and awareness of heart attack symptoms are lifestyle choices, specifically diet and activity levels. It can be overwhelming to think of having to completely re-think the way we eat or to ponder starting an intense fitness program. However, by focusing on diet factors such as choosing lean meats, low fat dairy products, cutting back on hydrogenated oils (also known as Trans fats) and reducing salt and sugar intake as well as watching portion sizes can make a big difference in our heart health. Taking a daily walk is often enough to strengthen our cardiovascular system in a beneficial way.

February 5th, 2011 is National Wear Red Day. Wearing red is a simple way you can show support for women's heart disease awareness. The two other major women's heart health campaigns are "Go Red for Women" the American Heart Association's effort to associate the red dress and logo with women working together to reduce heart disease and "Heart Truth" with its message of "Heart disease doesn't care what you wear, it's the number one killer of women".

Like any good relationship, the heart needs care and attention so that it can in turn care for you.

Reference

By Courtney Stewart,   2/1/2011