Tina O’Toole, Staff Writer
February has long been recognized as a month of romance, as store shelves are stocked with heart shaped cards and candy boxes in the colors red and pink. More importantly though, it has been recognized as American Heart Month—a time to learn about and focus on heart health.
With cardiovascular disease as the leading cause of death in the United States, killing 2,200 people per day, it has become more important than ever to become informed. Every year, since its congressional approval in 1963, the president has issued a proclamation to declare February as American Heart Month.
In an effort to recognize heart disease as the number one killer of women, The American Heart Association has introduced its initiative, Go Red For Women. This initiative raises money to provide education about heart disease to women and to help customize medical strategies and treatments to meet the specific needs of women.
The good news is that even with these alarming statistics, there is more information available than ever to help the public to recognize warning signs of a heart attack or stroke and to prevent heart disease in the first place. The first step is learning about the risks and how they apply to you.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, one of the first steps to prevent disease is to know your ABCs: Asprin, Blood pressure, and Cholesterol. One should check with their doctor to see if they should be taking Aspirin. People also need to check their blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Finally, if you or someone you know smokes, you or that person should quit.
There are many ways to maintain cardiovascular health. Regular exercise or activity for just 30 minutes per day is a start. Eating a healthy diet, limiting the intake of alcohol and tobacco, lowering stress levels, and losing weight if you are considered overweight are the main steps you can take to limit the risk of heart disease.
Women are less likely to realize they are at risk because of the misconceptions about heart disease. This means it is everyone’s responsibility to become educated about heart disease and to pass that information on to the women in their lives. It may save your mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, or friend.
This February, show you care about yourself and your loved ones by taking charge of your cardiovascular health. As you see the iconic heart of Valentine’s Day plastered everywhere, think about the heart that really matters.