American Heart Month
February is American Heart Month, a time when all people can focus on their cardiovascular health.
We often think of February as the month of love, commemorated by hearts and Valentines—but not only is it the month to take care of your sweetheart…it’s also the month to take care of your actual heart.
February is American Heart Month—a federally designated event, and an ideal time to remind Americans to focus on their heart health and to encourage their friends, families, and community members to do the same.
First declared in 1964, by then-President Lyndon Johnson (who had had a heart attack himself), the goal of Heart Month was to drive awareness and encourage Americans to join the battle against heart disease. The yearly presidential proclamation also pays tribute to researchers, physicians, public health professionals and volunteers for their tireless efforts in preventing, treating, and researching heart disease.
A multi-faceted and very prevalent set of conditions, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with a death occurring every 34 seconds from it. Cardiovascular disease is also the number one cause of death world-wide: An estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke. Out of the 17 million deaths under the age of 70 (premature deaths) due to noncommunicable diseases in 2019, 38% were caused by CVDs.
But the figures do not have to be so high…enter American Heart Month and the many education programs and resources available to help. In many cases, says the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is a preventable ailment, and can be curtailed or avoided by adopting a healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar and cholesterol, treating high blood pressure, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week, and getting regular checkups.
To learn some of the surprising statistics behind heart disease, check out our infographic below. For more information, activities, and health resources be sure to visit our sources, including the Center for Disease Control, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the World Health Organization, and the American Heart Association.