Celebrating Heart Health Month
When was the last time you thanked your heart for a job well done? Your heart is a majestic muscle, continuously operating to keep your organs supplied with oxygen-rich blood and helping your kidneys and lungs filter out waste. However, it’s easy to take your heart’s amazing efforts for granted.
Every February, however, the heart and its remarkable contributions get officially recognized during American Heart Month. This annual observance helps draw attention to the importance of heart health, the devastating toll of heart disease, and how to help people reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Here’s what you need to know about American Heart Month and the state of heart disease in the U.S. in 2023.
What Is American Heart Month?
American Heart Month realizes its 59th anniversary in 2023, which reflects that heart health is a pillar of overall health, and this fact has remained unchanged for decades. The original holiday was started by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had suffered a heart attack himself. During American Heart Month, Americans are encouraged to focus on their own cardiovascular health and recognize the large burden of heart disease on the general population.
Recognizing American Heart Month in 2023
One of the biggest celebrations that occur within the month of February is known as National Wear Red Day. Occurring on the first Friday of each February, the event serves to highlight the underrepresented toll that heart disease has on women as the number one killer of women each year. For public health communicators, education resources for this “Go Red For Women” campaign are available from the American Heart Association (AHA).
This year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also formed another important campaign known as “Live to the Beat,” which is targeted to reduce the risk of heart disease in Black Americans ages 35 to 54. This toolkit from the CDC includes several engaging videos and illustrations, as well as patient testimonies and printed materials that can help get the word out within this specific community.
The Significance of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease has a wide-ranging impact on everyone in the community. However, it is often overlooked when it comes to the threat it poses, even though heart disease causes more deaths than all types of cancer combined. Many people don’t believe that heart disease applies to them, with statistics showing that 72 percent of people don’t think they are at risk. However, heart disease claims one in three lives in the United States, or one death every 34 seconds, on average.
Fighting Heart Disease, One Good Habit at a Time
The statistics on heart disease can be sobering. However, you can prevent eighty percent of heart disease using healthy lifestyles. The fundamentals of heart health include getting enough physical exercise and movement each day, nourishing your heart with a proper diet, getting sufficient sleep, avoiding heart-damaging behaviors like smoking and binge drinking, and keeping your stress levels and chronic medical conditions under control.
To help remember the tenants of heart disease prevention, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published the ABCs of Heart Health acronym.
This easy-to-remember acronym represents the following:
- A: Take aspirin as directed by a medical professional. Aspirin can help thin your blood and reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. However, it’s important to make this decision in coordination with a medical provider.
- B: Control your blood pressure. Blood pressure can have a significant impact on the health of your heart, as chronically elevated pressure can damage the sensitive lining of your blood vessels and jeopardize the health of your heart valves.
- C: Manage your cholesterol. Fat is an essential molecule in your body with many important roles. However, an excess of the “bad” kind of fat, known as LDL cholesterol, can make you more vulnerable to heart disease.
- S: Don’t smoke. Smoking has several negative effects on heart health, including reducing the flexibility of your blood vessels, increasing your likelihood of developing blood vessel plaques, thickening your blood, and raising your blood pressure. However, quitting cigarettes at any time (even if you’ve smoked for decades), can lower your risk of suffering heart disease.
How to Learn More about American Heart Month
If you’d like to get involved in recognizing American Heart Month, or you’d like more information on heart disease, be sure to check out this website from the AHA.
Research and materials for this article were compiled, written, and distributed on behalf of the National Public Health Information Coalition. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the various authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Public Health Information Coalition or its members.
 What is American Heart Month? https://www.lifelinescreening.com/health-education/cardiovascular-wellness/american-heart-month?sourcecd=WNAT003
 National Wear Red Day. https://www.goredforwomen.org/en/get-involved/give/wear-red-and-give
 Lower Your Risk for The Number 1 Killer of Women. https://www.cdc.gov/healthequity/features/heartdisease/index.html
 Live to the Beat Campaign Toolkit. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/partners-progress/partners/live-beat-campaign-toolkit.html
 Heart and Stroke Statistics. https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/heart-and-stroke-association-statistics
 ABCs of Heart Health. https://millionhearts.hhs.gov/data-reports/factsheets/ABCS.html