American Heart Month

February 7, 2023

February is designated American Heart Month to raise awareness of heart disease.

Why it is important to protect your heart?

  • Your heart beats over 100,000 times per day.
  • Your heart pumps about 1.5 gallons of blood every minute. Over the course of a day, that adds up to over 2,000 gallons.
  • The adult heart is about the size of two hands clasped together.
  • More heart attacks happen on a Monday than any other day of the week.
  • The most heart attacks occur on Christmas Day every year, with the day after Christmas and New Year’s Day close behind.
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States. It is responsible for more than 600,000 deaths per year.  In 2020, approximately 697,000 people in the United States died from heart disease:  1 in every 5 deaths.

What are the risk factors for Heart Disease?

  • Hypertension – Defined as blood pressure greater than 140/90. The goal is to keep blood pressure less than 130/80.  Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or less.
  • High Cholesterol – Know your cholesterol numbers, including LDL or bad cholesterol. Optimal levels vary by individual based on other risk factors.  Discuss yours with your physician.
  • Diabetes – Check for elevated blood sugar and manage diabetes closely.
  • Overweight or Obesity – Excess body fat, especially around the waist, increases heart risk.
  • Gender – Men have a greater risk than women, even after menopause.
  • Family History – Know if there is a family history of heart disease, especially males before age 55 or females before age 65.
  • Tobacco Use – Tobacco use is a major risk factor for heart disease, as well as stroke. Nicotine causes the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise.  Smoking also promotes clotting and buildup of plaque in arteries.
  • Inactive Lifestyle – According to the American Heart Association Journal, “Sedentary behavior and physical inactivity are among the leading modifiable risk factors worldwide for cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality.” 

How to improve your risk factors?

  • See your physician regularly and know your numbers: blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.  If needed, begin appropriate treatment.  Cholesterol should be treated with a statin medication to lower risk.
  • Eat a heart healthy diet, including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and heart healthy proteins.
  • Get regular exercise. The American Heart Association suggests at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity (or an equal combination of both) each week.
  • STOP smoking! Talk to your physician for help.
  • Keep diabetes under control and aggressively treat cholesterol by taking a statin medication.

Is CPR training important? 

Buffalo Bills football player, Damar Hamlin, collapsed after making a tackle in the first quarter of the Monday Night Football game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2nd.  Damar went into cardiac arrest and was administered CPR on the field, and his heartbeat was revived.  He was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center and miraculously survived.  He has teamed up with the American Heart Association to promote CPR training.  As a result, CPR training will be offered at the Super Bowl by the NFL and the American Heart Association.   CPR could save your life or the life of a loved one.  Here is a link to find training in your area.

February is American Heart Month.  Be good to your heart this month and all year long.