Red heart decoration.

National Wear Red Day

by Sara Jackson, MiCAFE Network Specialist

Woman having blood pressure taken.When you go to the store during the month of February, you will see lots of red and pink decorations for Valentine’s Day. However, the red decorations can be used for another special event. That special event is American Heart Health Month. During the month of February, the American Heart Association raises awareness throughout the whole month to express the importance of heart health. In fact, Friday, February 3, 2017 is National Wear Red Day. Heart Health is very important and gets taken for granted too. In fact, if it weren’t for normal doctor visits, my grandfather would not be here today.

In late 2011, my grandfather went to the doctor for his annual checkup. While he was there, the doctor heard a different sound in my grandfather’s heart and instructed him to get it checked out. On November 14, 2011, my grandfather had a cardiac catheterization done, which determined that he had a bad valve and an aneurysm. To correct this, he was going to need surgery. He had open heart surgery on April 12, 2012. While he was in surgery, he had a Bicuspid Valve and Aortic Root replacement done. Since he has had the surgery, he sees his cardiologist once a year for follow ups and he was on a low salt diet for a while as well. To maintain a healthy heart, he exercises 2 or 3 times a week and is back to doing anything he wants to do. My grandfather is very lucky to have his doctor catch his problem early on, but most people aren’t so lucky.

Did you know that 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease each year? Heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States, which killed around 787,000 people in 2011. Did you also know that someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds in the United States and that someone dies from a heart disease-related event every 60 seconds? It has also been discovered that over 700,000 people suffer from a heart attack each year. WOW! Those statistics are mind boggling and need to be lowered drastically. What are the symptoms to look out for as well as some ways to help lower your risk?

What are the symptoms? Per the American Heart Association, symptoms can vary from person to person. Approximately 2 in 3 people experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or fatigue a few days or a few weeks before the heart attack. It has also been discovered that 1 in 3 people who have a heart attack don’t experience any sort of chest pain.

Ways to lower your risk. Per the Heart Foundation, men and women should strive to do the following:

  • Maintain a heart healthy lifestyle;
  • Regularly exercise;
  • Low salt, low saturated fat, and low trans-fat diet;
  • Avoid smoking;
  • Know your risk factors and review them with a TRUSTED doctor;
  • May need to take medications; and,
  • Learn CPR

For more information about Heart Health, visit the Heart Foundation or the American Heart Association. You can also visit Common Risk Factors for Heart Disease to learn more about them as well as ways to reduce them, What is Heart Disease to learn more about what the disease actually is, or Heart Disease: Scope and Impact as well as Women and Heart Disease to view more statistics about the disease.

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