Besides Valentine's Day, February is also the month of a very important movement: American Heart Month. This drive toward raising awareness of heart disease is critical. Currently, 25 percent of deaths in the U.S. are attributed to heart disease making it the leading cause.
Additionally, 50 percent of Americans have at minimum one risk factor that can lead to this illness. Some of those factors are obesity, poor diet, high blood pressure or lack of physical activity.
Spreading awareness of the danger and causes of this very preventable disease is crucial for taking back control. Fortunately, many of the solutions are simple. To lower risk we need to:
- Watch our weight
- Drink alcohol in moderation
- Eat healthy
- Get active
Additionally, a major factor of heart disease is smoking. While quitting smoking is difficult for many, it is worth the effort for a longer, healthier life. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a "toolkit" online that helps us promote the movement. They give us facts, sample announcements for our own newsletters, and sample social media statements.
For example, some of the sample tweets for consumers are:
- It's #AmericanHeartMonth! Find out what you can do today to lower your risk for heart disease: http://1.usa.gov/13d8oBq
Tweet this message: http://ctt.ec/0yV97
- #DYK? Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Learn more: http://1.usa.gov/ijFWzj
Tweet this message: http://ctt.ec/bIbRB They also offer tweet message examples for medical professionals. In conjunction with American Heart Month is also National Wear Red Day. It is always the first Friday in February. This day specifically highlights women and heart disease.
Unfortunately, heart disease and strokes are the cause of 33 percent of women's deaths each year. That is one woman dying every 80 seconds!
What can you do to get involved?
Host an American Heart Month event at your work or in your community. HHS gives us a comprehensive outline for how to plan and promote it. Additionally, they offer some great activity ideas:
- Partner with a local fitness or recreation center (Do you have a nearby YMCA you can call?). Use this partnership to promote the importance of being physically active.
- Ask your local Red Cross to come and give CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) lessons.
- Schedule a 20-30 minute walk around the local neighborhood.
- Find a heart-healthy recipe and conduct a cooking demonstration. (Maybe you could call the local culinary school and involve the students?)
The toolkit also gives us some great free printables such as a Healthy Foods Shopping List and tips for reducing stroke and managing stress. All great handouts for your event!As you can see, raising awareness of heart disease is absolutely critical given its prevalence in our country and the devastation it causes.
What can you do today to not only strengthen your heart but those of your friends, family and community?
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