February is American Heart Month, a federally designated event, made possible by President Lyndon B. Johnson by a proclamation in February of 1964. At that time, more than half the deaths in the U.S. were caused by cardiovascular disease.
Today, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Every year, 1 in 4 deaths are caused by heart disease.
- Heart disease and stroke cause 1 in 3 deaths among women each year – more than all cancers combined.
- African American men, especially those who live in the southeast region of the United States, are at the highest risk for heart disease.
While American Heart Month is a federally designated month in the United States, it’s important to realize that cardiovascular disease knows no borders. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, remains the leading global cause of death with more than 17.3 million deaths each year. That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030.
Heart disease can often be prevented when people make healthy choices and manage their health conditions. We should all encourage our patients, friends and families, and ourselves to make health changes to lower the risk of developing heart disease. We should encourage everyone to:
- Schedule a visit with a doctor to talk heart health
- Increase healthy eating
- Watch your weight
- Quit smoking and stay away from secondhand smoke
- Control cholesterol and blood pressure
- Take medication(s) as prescribed
- Reduce stress
- If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation
- Get active
According to the American Heart Association, 80 percent of cardiac and stroke events may be prevented with education and action. Small changes can make all the difference.