Many of you know that February is American Heart Month and today is National Wear Red Day. President Obama even helped kick start the annual awareness campaign against the nation’s No. 1 killer with a federal declaration. “My Administration is committed to leading a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time — and to ensuring Americans live longer, healthier, more productive lives,” Obama wrote.
But this isn’t just a domestic issue. We have health data collected from nearly 200 countries that show heart disease remains the No. 1 global cause of death with 17.3 million deaths each year*. That number is expected to rise to more than 23.6 million by 2030, the report found.
On a positive note, fewer Americans have been dying of heart disease and stroke since the 1980s, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) deaths in the U.S. continued to drop from 2001 to 2011 by 30.8 percent. Much of the progress comes from better use of medical therapies in patients with a history of heart disease and stroke and from lifestyle changes that are curbing the risk. Learn more about the top CVD research advances here.
You may be wondering what these numbers mean to you, or how they affect you. They may not. But they likely affect someone you know now or will at some point in the future. For me, American Heart Month is personal. When I started at the American Heart Association (AHA) 25 years ago, nobody in my family had CVD. They didn’t even have the typical risk factors. Fast forward to today and the story is much different. My grandmother is a stroke survivor. My father has metabolic syndrome. My mother has atrial fibrillation (AFib), and earlier this month I rushed my wife to the hospital with AFib.
Fortunately, my loved ones are alive and well. They’ve made great strides over the years to live healthier lives, and I like to think that our work at AHA has played a significant role along the way through awareness, education and funding of medical research.
Whether you do it for yourself or your loved ones, take 10 minutes during American Heart Month to visit mylifecheck.heart.org, a website where you can learn how to improve your health by following “Life’s Simple 7”.
*Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2015 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association